Beginning and Emergent Readers
What HAPPY Reading Has for Me

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Each month we feature a prominent voice from the world of literacy education. These established researchers and practitioners offer their wisdom for your consideration and for possible implementation in your learning setting. Some of these articles relate to best practices for working with beginning and emergent readers.

The full text of each expert article is available to all guests of HAPPY Reading until the article archives. At that time, only registered members will retain access.


Permanent Articles

The Concise Science of Reading
For a solid review or overview of the process of acquiring reading skill… and for notes on best practices to pursue as learners begin the reading journey, you may wish to begin with these articles. They are:

5 Pillars
More Pillars
Word Study, Leveled Reading and Vocabulary

…and possibly these, as well…
A Word About Standards
Reading Motivation
Parent Involvement

They can all be found under the Resources tab, just below the calendar area and the monthly articles:

Recommended Professional Books
There are several books related to understanding word study, leveled reading, and effective vocabulary instruction. These are located at the bottom of the Resources page. Words Their Way, Word Journeys, Guided Reading, and Bringing Words to Life will all offer some insight on helping children achieve a concept of word-- the milestone that signals the beginning of the real reading of text—and moving through the stages of early reading, writing and understanding to more confident skills in all these areas. Links to purchase these books are located at the bottom of the Resources page.

Monthly Articles

These articles update monthly under the permanent, umbrella headings. Those headings, current articles and places of origin are:

School-Wide Reading
Current Article-If You Build It Up, They Will Read (Connecticut)
Surrogate Librarian
Current Article-Book Ambassador (Colombia, South America)
Book-Inspired Art
Current Article-The Snowball Effect (Michigan)
Books As Bridges
Current Article-Blanketed in Kindness (Florida and Louisiana)
Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking
Current Article-A Dramatic Difference (North Carolina)
Book-Inspired Community Service
Current Article-Love and Sandwiches (Georgia)
Literacy for All Kinds of Intelligence
Current Article-Naturally Smart (Florida)

Read here for ideas, innovations and inspiration for learners of varied ages, and you will almost certainly ignite your own imagination! Some ideas will be immediately transferrable and others you can adapt for your beginning readers. These articles are located on the Resources page, immediately below the calendar area.

Monthly articles are viewable for all visitors while they are current. Once archived, only registered members retain access.

Instructional Materials Library Free Samples

We specialize in poems and reader's theater scripts that are immediately downloadable.  You can use these resources for teaching alphabet, sight words, rhyming and much more.  Each poem is an opportunity to help students acquire a concept of word and develop early reading skill, especially in decoding and fluency. For those new to reading, a four-line, level A/B poem is perfect. You’ll find a regular version (T1), a version specifically for practice (T2) and explicit instructions for educators on how to use the poem to build concept of word (T3) and more. You can download and use these pages from our FREE area of the Instructional Materials Library. We recommend Al’s Apples, Pretty Ugli, Some of Each, Beck’s Long Neck and Making Music. These are all short, lively poems with cute pictures to engage students. Encourage students to place a sticker in each practice block or color in a square for each time they successfully read the poem and track each word accurately.

Very simple reader’s theater scripts provide the same opportunity to grasp the concept of word. Among the free samples on the site, consider downloading Snowball and More About George Washington Carver. Very simple scripts allow inexperienced readers to memorize the lines, and this is beneficial if they are also given support to point to each word as they say it. Gradually, they begin to connect what they are saying with where they are pointing and with what they are seeing. Being able to see that each word is an individual entity is what concept of word (COW) is all about. Once students know this, they are well on their way to being readers, and the more they practice, the more sight words they gain and the more fluent their reading becomes… all setting the stage for solid comprehension.

Leveled poems and reader’s theater scripts when read and re-read, as a regular part of a language arts routine, as a regular activity in a content classroom, as a regular activity at home or in a home school classroom, as a regular activity in a library or community group setting can improve fluency significantly. There are also opportunities to improve vocabulary, word study (spelling) skill, engagement, and much more.

To access the FREE poems and scripts, go to:

Suggestions on how to use these poems to support instruction, including for fluency:

Suggestions on how to use these reader’s theater scripts to support instruction, including for fluency:

FREE samples are our gift to you. We hope you use them frequently and well for the enjoyment and education of your learners. If you wish to have unlimited access to our library’s holdings, you may become a registered member. Currently, we have thousands of pages of poems, reader’s theater scripts and companion Detail pages that highlight alignment with content and standards. We add new materials each month.


Featured Celebrity
Those who rise to prominence in any endeavor… but especially in athletics and the arts… are often those who learn differently from most. The stories of trial and triumph offered by readers and writers who also happen to be celebrities can be informative and affecting for all of us. Some of these stories will appeal deeply to adult learners and those who help teach them.
Currently Featured- LeVar Burton

Featured Author or Illustrator
Get to know the authors and illustrators who entertain and educate us with their immense talents. Plan author study around the current artist of honor and appreciate their contributions to the world of literacy. Inspire the writer, artist, and learner inside your children or students with the stories of the storytellers.
Currently Featured-Sarah Weeks
Not only is she a prolific writer; she’s also an avid reader’s theater producer and performer!

Featured Parent
Whether you are a classroom teacher, a home school instructor, a parent or more than one of these… interviews with our featured parents are full of ideas and commonalities we share as we nurture learners. Look here for ideas, for smiles and for ways to bridge the expanse between home and school.
Currently Featured- Dr. Michele Cooley-Strickland of California

Featured Adult Learner
Though each learner’s story is different, certainly there are themes that all of us will recognize. Read about this month’s featured learner and find encouragement to keep after the coveted goals. These profiles are ideal for educators to share with their learners. Even very young learners can appreciate that learning is for a lifetime, and there is no substitute for determination. Some of these stories may be appropriate to share with them, so they understand the value of an education.
Currently Featured-George Dawson of Texas

Featured Educator
Watch this area for exemplary educators, including those who teach beginning readers. Note their philosophies and their methods and decide if they might provide some modeling for what more you can do with your own students.
Currently Featured- Brad Shonk of Mississippi

Access to all of these profiles is available at:

Profiles can be read by all visitors to HAPPY Reading while they are still current. After that time, they archive and you must be a registered member to enjoy the full text of each profile.

HAPPY is pleased to recommend a wide assortment of books that make great read-alouds. Reading aloud allows more experienced readers to model fluency for less skilled readers. Exposure to engaging literature also increases the likelihood that listeners will choose to read on their own, which can lead to greater fluency. Some of the books are classic, some new, some tried-and-true with readers and audiences. All our picture book, early chapter and easy reader picks come with some sort of instructional suggestion… usually related to word study. These descriptions are available while the books are still among our current picks. For archived descriptions, you must be a registered member.

In the final section of read-aloud suggestions, you’ll see chapter books and novels that are typically for older readers, but remember that chapter books and novels can also make great read-aloud experiences for youngsters who are not yet able to manage the text alone. Be sure to check for our recommended interest levels, by age, to see if there isn’t a winner among these books that you can share with your learners. A memorable, shared reading experience can lead to independent reading of the same text or something by that same author at a later time.

For your convenience, you can buy books through the site by clicking on the icon for the store you wish to use. All financial transactions are handled by these reputable retailers. You may also click to find books in your nearest, local library. Shared reading among young learners gives them a dramatic advantage when it comes to becoming skilled readers. And we believe it is NEVER too late to read aloud with learners of any age. As C.S. Lewis said, “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty.”

Find Books at

Links to Articles and Research
Find articles elsewhere on the web that explain the value of reader’s theater and repeated poetry reading in improving fluency. and scroll to the bottom.

As a registered HAPPY member, you get:



Services from HAPPY
I’m HAPPY Reading-Books to You (Optional w/additional cost)
This service is intended to support reading aloud, which is an opportunity for more experienced readers to model fluency for those with less experience and reading skill. This is a paid service, customized in price to fit your choices; it includes a free year of HAPPY Reading membership.

Instructional Materials Library
This includes instantly available downloads of thousands of pages of leveled poem and reader’s theater scripts. Repeated readings of poems and scripts at the appropriate level for the reader are virtually guaranteed to improve fluency. Material is written with content standards in mind AND to support literacy growth across the life span for learners in a variety of settings and circumstances. For alphabet knowledge and beginning letter sounds, be sure to see our grouping called First Fruits. These make a fantastic starting point for units on healthy eating and healthy lifestyles. They are also terrific for units on gardens, growing and living things. Only members have access to the full instructional materials library via the LOGIN button. Or you may register to become a member here:

Members only Archive
All features—including articles, profiles and interviews—are still available after they’ve archived when you are a registered member. You might be interested in the following as it pertains to early learners:

Just Read Anything-by Dr. Twila Liggett
In following Dr. Liggett’s recommendation, improved fluency is one likely benefit.

Monthly Articles
Surrogate Librarian-Junior Patrons
Featured Educator-Julie Dauksys
This middle school reading coach has an abundance of experience and wisdom to offer those who work with adolescent readers.

HAPPY52 Tips
Only members receive weekly delivery of Reading Raves and Reminders in their e-mail to help keep teaching practices sharp and student skill sharper. Some of these tips are related to beginning readers.

Coming in late summer/early fall, this one of a kind resource will help you to connect real, high quality children’s literature with essential instructional goals. You’ll also be able to create text sets and identify books by author, illustrator, series, content area, reading level and much more. Improved fluency, vocabulary enhancement and strengthened engagement are among the benefits of reading aloud from carefully selected books and from students’ repeated reading of books at the right instructional or independent reading level. Join at today’s low price and make your HAPPY Reading experience even more of a great value for you and your students.

Members also get HAPPY Services-- including HAPPY Primary, READ UP, WORD, HAPPY Preschool, HAPPY Transitions and Bibliotherapy-- at special pricing. Workshops for both parents and education professionals are also available at discounted pricing. Write to inquire and discuss specific needs.


Registering as a member gives you the satisfaction of knowing you’ve joined a community of educators, learners, leaders and book lovers who are all about exploring better and more effective ways to coach learners to greater success. When you are at work, HAPPY Reading will be available to work alongside you to help reach higher goals. When you’re not at work, HAPPY Reading will be working steadily to bring you more stories of excellence and creative approaches to learning that will be ready when you are. Join us.

Becoming a registered member costs just pennies a day, per student. Some people spend more than this amount on a single book that may have much more limited use. You can purchase up to three years of membership at the low, introductory price. Schools and divisions may also purchase for up to three years at this same per-license rate. And referring friends, colleagues, other schools or other divisions can lead to even greater benefits for you and for them.

Special introductory price: $39.99. To register:

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