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First Grade Readers

Units of Study to Help Children See Themselves as Meaning Makers

By Stephanie Parsons
Foreword by Kathy Collins

Stephanie shares a year of classroom-ready, developmentally appropriate instruction for reading workshop. These seven units make the road to reading independence shorter for your first-grade students, providing developmentally appropriate support and just-right challenges for growth.

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Whether you’re new to reading workshop or seeking continuity with your school’s intermediate-grades curriculum, the units of study in Stephanie Parsons’ First Grade Readers help make the road to independence shorter for your students.

Reading achievement improves not with increased testing but with increased reading. And not just any reading, but repeated reading of relatively easy to decode, interesting, self-selected texts. First Grade Readers is a year of classroom-ready, developmentally appropriate instruction for reading workshop. Seven units are filled with the language and lessons of a master teacher and include detailed support structures for:

  • Goal-Setting: specific rationales and instructional focal points
  • Getting Ready to Teach: ideas for planning, organization, and materials
  • Notes on Demonstration: techniques for modeling your reading to students
  • Teaching the Units: guidance on minilessons, conferences, and mid-workshop teaching points
  • Reflecting and Celebrating: ways students can share what they’ve learned
  • Supporting the Unit: differentiation for advanced and struggling readers
  • Checking In: strategies for finding out what students know and have learned.

(click any section below to continue reading)


Chapter 1 Becoming a Community of Readers

Chapter 2 Making Sense of Those Little Black Marks

Chapter 3 Bringing Books to Life

Chapter 4 Reading with a Wide-Awake Mind

Chapter 5 Reading to Learn

Chapter 6 Sounding Like Readers

Chapter 7 Planning for Independence and Summer Reading

Appendix A Student Handouts

Appendix B Websites to Help Foster Reading



With First Grade Readers, you have the wonderful opportunity to spend time with Stephanie Parsons, learn a lot, and laugh a lot. As you read, let Stephanie take you (and your students) on the journey of a comprehensive, yet well-paced, year of reading workshop. Read closely as she shares brilliant ideas for creating a robust, child-friendly reading workshop characterized by high expectations and plentiful learning opportunities.

By providing a clear vision of a year of first-grade reading, Stephanie makes reading workshop seem very possible to implement…immediately. Stephanie shares teaching ideas and specific suggestions for units of study that focus on accuracy, fluency, comprehension, genre, and independence. Throughout, she helps us reimagine possibilities for familiar units while also introducing ideas for innovative units.

Stephanie’s writing, like her classroom and her teaching, is crisp, clean, efficient, yet also warm and welcoming. The units are presented in an intuitive and focused way, making everything feel as if it’s within reach, no matter if you’re a brand-new teacher beginning your first year or a veteran teacher with lots of workshop teaching experience, no matter if you’re a teacher in an urban school with a concrete playground or a teacher at a rural school with an unobstructed view of the horizon.

In addition to compelling units of study, Stephanie also teaches us about the culture of a healthy, vibrant reading workshop. As you read, you’ll notice the language of invitation, the act of demonstration, and the power of opportunity—Stephanie’s teaching is infused with words that invite young readers to imagine themselves reading the best they can and demonstrations for exactly how to do that; and words that invite students to read, think, and talk together about books with growing sophistication, and opportunities for book talks that push young readers to think, and then to outgrow their thinking.

Stephanie doesn’t only mentor us to teach first graders how to read with power and joy; she shows us how to teach with power and joy. Thank you, Stephanie. We need this now.

Kathy Collins
Author of Growing Readers