The Reading Race
Betsy Thomas


 In order for children to become expert readers and to actually enjoy reading, they first have to develop fluency in their reading. Being fluent in reading involves reading faster, smoother, and with more expression. One of the first steps in developing fluency is learning to recognize words effortlessly and automatically. Fluent readers read faster, smoother, and more expressively.  Instead of spending time decoding individual words, a fluent reader recognizes and decodes words instantly, thus allowing comprehension and enjoyment. This lesson will help students develop reading fluency through repeated readings and one-minute reads.


- Class copies and teacher copy of book:  Arthur’s Reading Race by Marc Brown
- Stopwatch:  one for each partner group
- Class bulleting boards with characters Arthur and D.W. on it to place each students poster on it to display achievement
- Individual posters for class with numbers graphed on it for each child to place small pictures of books on for tracking fluency progress
- 3 small decorative books for each student with each students name on them


1.“To start off our activity today, we are going to review a strategy we can use when we don’t recognize a word.  If we come to the letters b a c k   but cannot read the word, first we look at the vowel sound. In this word, says /a/. Next I go to the beginning sound. b says /b/ . If we add the vowel sound we have "baaaaa" “Finally, we look at the last sound. It is ck=/k/. Now put all three sounds together to read "baaaack. Back! Great job! When we come to words we don't know when we are reading, one way to figure out the word is by using this vowel-first method to figure it out."

2. . “When we read, we need to make sure that we read smoothly just as if we are talking so that we can understand what we read. I am going to read a sentence for you with out reading smoothly, or what we call fluently: I t-o-o-k m-y d-o-g S-m-o-k-e-y f-o-r a w-a-l-k. Do you think you would want to hear someone read a whole book like that. No! Me either. It would be boring and hard to listen to someone who read like that wouldn’t it? How about if I read like this “I took my dog Smokey for a walk.” That sounds a lot better doesn’t it?  The first time I read the sentence each word was broken up into each sound I heard in the word, but the second time I read the sentence it improved because I put all the sounds together to make words to read the sentence all together.  Since we all need to read with expression and fluency we all have to keep practicing!  So now everyone will receive a copy of Arthur’s Reading Race. (Pass out books for each reading group, reading groups previously assigned.)

3. Each person in your group is going to practice reading 3 times. Our goal is to read 60 words in one minute. We are going to use our little books to show how we get better every time we read. Ask your partner to time you for 1 minute while you are reading with the stopwatches. Write down the number of words you read after a minute.  Repeat this three times, and after each timed reading, place your little book next to the number of words you read. If you need help raise your hand and I will come around to help you record your results.”

4. Everybody did such a great job with this activity, but to get better, you have to practice. I want for everyone to practice as much as you can, because the more you practice, the faster you get, and the more you will be able to read and understand.  You can take the books that I passed out today home and practice your reading with your parents or guardians. I want for everyone to remember when you are reading what we talked about today, what to do when you get stuck on a word and how to read fluently.


Students can be assessed for fluency by one minute reads.  The students will use fluency charts to keep up with their progress by moving their small pictures of books on the bulletin board for the highest WPM after 3 one minute reads.  After a book is read 3 or 4 times, a new book will be introduced and one minute reads should be repeated 3 or 4 more times


1. Up, up and away by Kathryne Clark


2. On your mark, get set, GO!!!!! By Meredith Mosley


3. Arthur’s Reading Race by Marc Brown. Beginner Books. 1996

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