Pre-reading activities are used to engage student interest and support their reading of new text. It is important that pre-reading instruction be focused, with clear objectives to support students’ reading rather than overshadowing the reading experience. A pre-reading activity might motivate students, engage background knowledge, introduce new vocabulary needed for comprehension, or help students prepare to apply a new reading strategy…but it should not do all of these things.

Dr. Timothy Shanahan, Director of the Center for Literacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, points out that the Common Core standards call for an increased use of challenging texts, so pre-reading activities are of particular importance. In his blog, “Part 2: Practical Guidance on Pre-Reading Lessons” (Tuesday, March 20, 2012), Shanahan on Literacy , he offers these guidelines:

  • Be brief–the pre-reading lesson should not take longer than reading the actual text.
  • Let the author do the talking–do not use pre-reading to give away the author’s message.
  • Create a reason to read–plan a pre-reading lesson that intrigues students.
  • Be strategic–what do students most need in order to engage with the text? If they already have background knowledge, don’t spend lesson time on this.