Racing Through Books!

 Growing Independence and Fluency
Elizabeth Bush


 In order for students to read more fluently they need to be able to be more expressive, fast and smooth while they read. When children are able to decode words effortlessly reading becomes much more enjoyable for them, hopefully increasing the time they spend reading. They are able to have more fun reading. To improve fluency you need to take a direct approach with lots of repetitive practice. This lesson aims at helping children read smoother, faster and more expressively!

Stopwatch for every two children, a copy of "Bud the Sub" with marks every ten words for every student (“Charlie” for the advanced readers), a copy of the race track for every student (click here), a copy of the four race cars page for every student (click here), crayons, scissors, markers for students to color their cars, glue, “road” cover up sticks for every two students, and a sentence strip with “Gus and Meg fell off the log.”


1.) I will introduce the lesson by briefly explaining the importance of reading with speed and fluency:  Today we are going to work on making our reading sound a little better. I am going to read part of this book two ways and I want you to tell me if I do a better job of reading the first or second way.  Listen to the first way I read. (I will read the sentence strip the way a non-fluent reader would).  “G-u-s a-n-d M-e-g f-e-ll o-ff th-e l-o-g” That isn’t very fun to listen to is it? Let’s see if the second way I can read sounds any better.  (I will read the same sentence with fluency and expression).  “Gus and Meg fell off the log.”  Which way did you like better? The second way! Me, too! It takes a lot of practice to learn how to read like thatOne of the best ways to work on this is to get reading faster and faster.  Then, it is easy to add excitement to reading because it isn’t hard to read the words anymore! Today, we are going to practice reading faster and faster. 2) The students will have already read In the Bud the Sub (lower readers) or Charlie (more advanced readers) with their reading groups depending on their reading level.  I will pair the students off homogenously so that they will be able to use the same book.

3) Pass out the stop watches, various books, race tracks, and cars to each group. While one partner is the reader, the other will be the timer.  The reader will be timed for one minute. If you are the reader, I want you to read as many words as you can.  If you come to a word that you don’t know use your “road” cover up stick to try to figure it out. Review cover-up strategy. Remember that when we come to a word we are having trouble with you can use your cover-up stick by covering the word then as you read you reveal one letter at a time to help you sound it out. Then blend it all together.  Let’s try it with the sentence I read earlier. Model for students with the sentence strip. Then let the whole class practice as you cover up parts of words.   If you still are having trouble, ask your partner for help. I will also be walking around to help you if you need it.  The partners will trade off several times so that they will get faster and faster. Before they start, pass out the race tracks and cars.  When the timer has timed for one minute, she or he will record the number of words that the reader has read and place the car on that number on the race track.  The books have marks every ten words to make it easier for you to count. All, you have to do is count by tens and then add on the extra words. If your partner reads 36 words in a minute you will glue a car between the 30 and the 40.   Each of y’all will read the book four times, then you will switch jobs with your partner.  I bet that your car will get further down the race track each time you read!  Cars can be glued on to the track, or if you would like to reuse the race track make sure the students write the number of words down on the front of the car and the reader name and book on the back, and just have the students place their cars on the track.


I will assess each student by looking at his or her progress on their race tracks to see if they were able to improve. The cars will be numbered, so I will know how many pages the student read each of the four times. Before I take up their race tracks, I will make sure that their name, date, and the title of the book is on the top of the page.  This way I can reference back and have documentation of their progress during the year.


Asbury, Sarah. “Let’s Leap into Great Reading”

Tippet, Dorsey. “Race to the Finish Line”


Bud the Sub. Phonics Readers Short Vowels. Educational Insights, 1990.

Vaughan, Richard.  CharlieNew Zealand, Scholastic, 1990. 24.

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