Satisfying Silent Reading

Growing Independence and Fluency


Caitlin Steeb




In order to become a completely fluent reader, one who recognizes words automatically, children need to learn to read silently.  Reading silently allows children to read much faster, nearly twice as fast, as they would if they were reading aloud.  This lesson will teach students to read silently by transitioning them from reading with a voice, with a whisper, with their lips only, and, finally to reading to themselves.  Students’ ability to read silently, and, therefore, fluently, will be assessed through an observational checklist and through comprehension questions about an instructional level, whole text. 



Observational checklist (one per student), Iggy Pig’s Silly Day! (one copy per student)



-Review previous learning

Say:  Today we are going to learn to read silently.  As we learn to read silently, I want you to remember to crosscheck as you read.  When we crosscheck, we are seeing if our word choice for a particular word we had trouble decoding makes sense.  We read to the end of the sentence to make sure the word fits and makes sense and then we reread the sentence to get back into the story.  Crosschecking will help you a great deal once we start reading new, unfamiliar books!

-Explain strategy in kid language

Say:  Reading silently is just like reading aloud except only you can hear what you are reading; you say all of the words in your head.  We will first learn to whisper read, then just mouth the words, and then read with our mouth closed while continuing to read in our head, thinking each of the words instead of saying them. 

-Explain why students need the strategy

Say:  When we read silently we can read so much faster than we could if we read aloud, which means we get to read even more books!  Reading silently also gives everyone in the class the chance to read a different book at the same time without being distracted by hearing everyone. 


Say:  I am going to show you how to read silently using this first sentence from Iggy Pig’s Silly Day!  A nonfluent reader would read aloud like this - “Iggy Pig was skipping” (exaggerate reading aloud so the whole class can hear).  Now, I don’t want to disturb everyone in my class and read aloud all the time.  Because we are becoming fluent readers we will first whisper read like this - “Iggy Pig was skipping” (read in a whisper, exaggerate each word as whispering to class).  Oh, that sounds much quieter.  I wouldn’t disturb my neighbor as much if I read in a whisper like that.  I want to be even more fluent though, so I am going to read the sentence in my head as I mouth the words to myself.  “Iggy Pig was skipping” (exaggerate mouth movements for each word as “reading” to the class).  Wow!  I was mouthing the words and reading in my head, but no sound was coming out.  Alright, I’m ready to be a fully fluent reader so I am going to read the whole sentence to myself (read sentence to yourself without making any mouth movements or vocal gestures).  I just read in my head silently!  I still understood what I was reading and what was happening, but everyone did not have to hear me read.  I really can read a lot faster when I don’t have to read it aloud to everyone!     


Say:  Now it’s your turn to be fluent readers!  Everyone read the second sentence aloud like nonfluent readers first (have students read aloud as a class).  You are all very good at reading aloud, but that is so noisy!  It makes it hard to concentrate!  Alright, we are starting our journey to be fluent.  Whisper read “‘Watch me skip, Mother Pig!  Watch me skip!’” (monitor students as they whisper read).  Great!  That was much more enjoyable and I could focus better.  Let’s keep going.  Everyone try to read again, but this time only mouth the words as you begin to read in your head (monitor students, making sure they are only mouthing the words as they read to themselves).  We’re almost there!  Here’s our last step to becoming fluent readers - everyone read the sentence in your head only, thinking the words to yourself instead of saying them aloud (monitor students as they read silently, without any sound or mouth movements).  You guys did great!  Do you still remember what you read?  What does Iggy Pig want his mom to do?  We are well on our way to becoming silent readers!

Say:  Now that we know how to be silent readers, each of you is going to silently read Iggy Pig’s Silly Day!  You can begin whisper reading or reading while moving your mouth, but after a few pages I want you to transition to reading silently in your head.  Our story is about Iggy Pig who is a happy little pig who just wants to skip all day long.  His farm friends follow Iggy Pig around the hills, skipping behind him.  But, a big gray animal is skipping behind Iggy Pig and he wants to eat Iggy Pig!  Will Iggy Pig be able to get away from the scary gray animal?  We’ll have to read to find out!


Say:  As you are all reading Iggy Pig’s Silly Day!, I am going to call you back individually to read silently like a fluent reader.  You will have the opportunity to transition into reading silently with me, by first reading with your voice, then whispering, then with your lips only, and finally, silently in your head (use observational checklist for each level of reading).  I will also ask you some questions about what you have read so far because fluent readers are able to comprehend what they are reading! (comprehension questions can include:  who were some of the animals that wanted to skip with Iggy Pig?  Who was worried for Iggy Pig?  Would you have gone to help Iggy Pig like Dusty Dog?  What do you like to do if you were on a farm?  Would you skip like Iggy Pig?) 



French, Vivian, and David Melling. Iggy Pig's Silly Day! New York: Scholastic, 2002. Print.


Elliot, Rachael.  SHH - Someone is Listening.


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