As an educator, working with students who were at risk of dropping out of school, I became increasingly frustrated with the lack of literature for my students that was not only written on their reading level, but was also interesting enough to keep them engaged. Often books that were written for struggling readers had simple plots. In all my years working with struggling readers, and having been a struggling reader myself, there is one key factor that is often not recognized or considered in providing literature for struggling readers.
Low reading level does not mean low-everything-else. Struggling readers often enjoy complex storylines offered by movies and video games. From my observations, they are quite tuned into the complexity of human relationships and the drama they encounter every day. So shouldn’t we provide them with books that do the same?
My books provide the educator with literature that allows their readers to build reading fluency with authentic characters and engaging plots.
I have added a mini-glossary at the end of each book with technical words, text terms, or any slang. This allows for teachers of English as a Second Language learners to have easy access to the terms.
I also provide opportunities for readers to practice any of the words that are more difficult to decode. At times, due to the necessity for authenticity, I have had to use a harder word. However, once I have, I introduce it again at least one or two more times within the same chapter so the reader can practice it and have immediate success with recognizing the word they just decoded. Immediate success with building reading fluency is a key strategy.
I will continue to use my background as a teacher, my education in literacy and reading, and my own personal experiences as a struggling reader in crafting more literature and resources.