Reading Textbook Selection

Commercial reading programs form the basis for reading instruction in many classrooms. Instructional manuals with detailed lesson plans, reading materials, and activities are generally included in these programs. Analysis of available commercial programs for early elementary grades was done in 1993. At that time very few programs included explicit teaching and application of the alphabetic principle, the very instructional components that are among those whose importance is most strongly supported by research. Many of the programs have since been revised to more clearly reflect the findings of the NICHD research. Noted below are the underlying instructional activities that serve to teach the skills identified in this document (Snow, 1998):

  • Oral language activities for fostering growth in receptive and expressive language and verbal reasoning,
  • Reading aloud with children to foster their appreciation and comprehension of text and literary language,
  • Phonemic analysis activities that focus on words and their phonemic elements, oral segmenting and blending activities, oral syllabication, and rhyming activities,
  • Decoding instruction. Sound symbol relationship activities that promote the relationship between letters and sounds,
  • Text characteristics that include word lists, and connected text; text and activities designed to provide multiple examples of the phonics instruction in the program.,
  • Activities to promote opportunities for students to build reading fluency,
  • Writing activities for developing children's personal appreciation of the communicative dimensions of print and for exercising printing and spelling abilities,
  • Activities to promote understanding of the text prior to reading. Comprehension skill strategy training,
  • Print-directed activities for establishing children's ability to recognize and print the letters of the alphabet,
  • Word-directed activities for helping children to acquire a basic sight vocabulary and to understand and appreciate the alphabetic principle.

Commercial programs that meet the above criteria and correlate to the Idaho Achievement Standards are identified in the annual Adoption Guide.