Are you concerned that you’re spending so much time planning and teaching weaker readers that the higher-level readers aren’t getting enough from you? 

We’ve all been there. But there’s no need to feel guilty because in this blog post, we're going to make the vision much simpler than you may currently see. Drop the burden of All. The. Things. Instead, focus first on the #1 goal for advanced readers. Then learn how you can accomplish this goal! 

This post about the primary goal for advanced readers is in a series of posts about advanced readers. See what where the advanced readers falls along a continuum of reading goals here. Or, if you want inspiration for how to develop readers who read all the time, head here. 

 (To watch a video where I discuss the #1 reading goal you should have for your advanced readers, hit play below, or keep reading for a detailed overview) 

What is the #1 Reading Goal for Advanced Readers?

Our #1 goal for advanced readers is to encourage them to read widely. Through wide reading, students learn the vocabulary and background knowledge that allows them to have excellent reading comprehension. They know a little bit about everything, so they can read and understand a wide variety of texts. 

Today we're getting a lot of advice to teach reading comprehension strategies. These, indeed, are demonstrated by multiple research studies to make a difference in reading comprehension. However, KNOWLEDGE is a much greater influence on reading comprehension. 

So, we DO teach, discuss, and practice reading comprehension strategies. But MORE of our time should be spent on encouraging and inspiring students to read, including across many genres - especially non-fiction.  

Teaching Content IS Teaching Reading 

According to a famous study by Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding, that looked at upper elementary students and tracked how much they read outside of school, kids in the 98th percentile read almost five million words per year. However, children who fell in the 50% mark read just 600,000 words a year and yet, there was a massive difference between the two. 

You can see this in the graph below:

The #1 goal for advanced readers

The conclusion? 

Kids who read a lot do better in reading comprehension tests because all of that reading has made them super knowledgeable about the world around them. When kids read about things like history, science or art, they get the vocabulary and background knowledge needed to be able to comprehend things they read in various subject areas. 

Check out this short video below by Professor Dan Willingham where he makes the case that teaching content IS teaching reading: 

Guidelines for Advanced Readers 

I recently picked up an old book I used to love called “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan. If you’re familiar with it, you’ll know that he boiled down the “science of healthy eating” to three simple statements:  

Eat food.  

Not too much.  

Mostly plants.  

Simple but powerful, right? 

Inspired by Pollan, I decided to recreate something similar with reading for advanced students. After all, that’s what we do here on Reading Simplified – we simplify things!  

There are so many things you can do to help develop an advanced reader’s background knowledge and deepen their comprehension. But here’s my top three rules for advanced readers: 

The #1 goal for advanced readers

Why Advanced Readers Must Read Widely 

Reading widely comes with a wide range of benefits for our advanced readers. It helps to engage the brain and provoke mental stimulation because it gets kids focused and encourages them to think about the world around them. 

It’s important for readers to broaden their horizon and read different books from lots of different genres. When I was young, I was hooked on Nancy Drew books, and then I moved into Agatha Christie. I was reading widely, even in just one genre. But I also expanded into other genres too like historical fiction, science fiction, and nonfiction, etc.  

If you stick to the same type of book and genre, you’ll get bored and give up on reading. So, you’ve got to keep things interesting for your kiddos to help develop their love and passion for the written word. Not to mention, reading widely expands vocabulary, equips students with more background knowledge, improves focus and concentration AND it helps to increase an advanced reader’s analytical thinking skills too.  

Think & Share Sometimes 

My next guideline for advanced readers is to think and share (sometimes). And what I mean by this is to encourage kids to think deeply about what they have read. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction or you choose to teach kids a reading strategy, you want them to think about their reading. 

Analyzing the details of a story and being able to critique and understand the plot is so important for advanced readers. Discussing what they’ve read with their peers is also beneficial because when readers engage socially, they become more motivated to continue reading and engaging with the text. 

Writing is another huge way in which we can develop students' knowledge and thinking. Writing may be one of the highest forms of thinking. So include writing about fiction and non-fiction, yet don't allow so many challenging writing projects sap the joy out of reading. 

Reading for Fun 

Kids don’t want to spend a whole lot of time reading something they don’t care about – and who can blame them! 

It’s important to give your students the privilege of reading often for fun. Kids are more likely to read when they enjoy what they’re reading. So, let them choose a book from the school library and engross themselves with stories about dragons, adventure or fantasy. 

When you encourage kids to read for pleasure, they’ll start to enjoy it more and develop a passion for reading because when you give students a choice and expose them to more and more things across multiple genres, they’ll be more likely to read. Not to mention, it’ll also help them to develop fluency and reading skills so that they can continue along the path towards (and beyond) advanced literacy. 

A Final Word… 

The next time you’re thinking about what to do with your advanced readers, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Are you giving advanced readers enough time to read widely? 
  • Are they doing spending time doing some deep thinking about what they’ve read?  
  • Are they sharing what they’ve learned with their peers? 
  • And…are you giving them the freedom to just read for fun or for pleasure? 

Once you start doing all of these things with your advanced readers, you’ll help them develop that intrinsic love for reading that will carry them through their whole life.

If you want to learn more about instruction for advanced readers and get your hands on our Developmental Model of Reading for Instruction freebie, just sign up below and we’ll send the FREE downloadable PDF straight to your inbox!