Guided Reading in Kindergarten, What Does it Look Like?

What is Guided reading in Kindergarten? It is differentiated small group reading instruction.  It is definitely not whole group.  The small groups are based on students’ reading proficiencies.  It is highly differentiated and fluid.  Students can move in and out of groups whenever needed.  Each group uses leveled books selected to meet their individual needs.   

teacher reading in a small group setting with kindergarteners

Guided Reading Lesson Plans for Kindergarten

Creating a guided reading lesson plan can seem daunting.  However, if you break it down into pieces focusing on your students’ needs, the strategies you will teach, and the book you will use, it becomes much more manageable.  Your lesson plans will include an objective with the strategies you will be teaching, word work, a book introduction, book reading, comprehension questions and after reading activities.  If you don’t want to create your own, there are many different lesson plan templates you can choose from. 

guided reading

When to Start Guided Reading in Kindergarten?

Starting guided reading depends on the level of your students.  We do not recommend starting the first month of school.  The first month is a time to get your rituals and routines set.  Once your classroom is running smoothly, you can begin guided reading with your students.   Before you begin guided reading in kindergarten, you need to make sure your students can work independently. This might be independent reading, literacy stations, or Daily 5.  Once your students can work on their own, you can start pulling small groups.  You may only be able to pull one group at first, but as your students build stamina, this number will increase.   


Importance of Guided Reading in Kindergarten

In our experience, guided reading is the best method to teach children to read.  Because of the small intimate setting, teachers are able to focus on students’ individual needs.  Because of the differentiated approach, students achieve fast growth.  Not only do students feel successful during guided reading, they are also highly engaged.  “Through guided reading, students learn how to engage in every facet of the reading process and apply that literacy power to all instructional contexts.” (  2019)

Guided Reading Books for Kindergarten

In kindergarten, you can use a variety of levels depending on your students’ abilities.  There are several different leveling systems.  Fountas and Pinnell and DRA are the most commonly used leveling systems.  Generally, kindergarten focuses on DRA levels A-4 which align with Fountas and Pinnell A-C.  However, you may have students at much higher levels.  We have found DRA to be the most consistent system, as it has more levels for your students to progress through.  Whatever system you and your school are using, we have created guided reading books that align with both, DRA levels A-4 and Fountas and Pinnell A-C.

See below for what others are saying about our guided reading books.

guided reading books
Click the picture to purchase our guided reading books.

Guided Reading Strategies in Kindergarten

Once again, the strategies you teach will be dependent on the abilities of your students.   For the most part, kindergarten focuses on the strategies you see in this picture. 

guided reading strategies

Guided Reading Groups in Kindergarten

To form your groups, you will need to assess your students, and reassess and reassess…  The assessment tools you use may depend on your school.  Some assessments we’ve used in the past are DRA2 Word Analysis tasks, letter names and sounds, first 100 sight words list, DIBELS, Star Early Literacy Assessment, Teaching Strategies Gold…  If you are at a school with no diagnostic testing mandates, we recommend you use: letter names and sounds, first 100 sight words list, and a concepts of print assessment.  For students who can read 10 or more sight words, use leveled books to assess and find their appropriate instructional level.  We suggest having no more than 4 students in each of your groups.  Students in each group need to be approximately at the same level. Your groups will be fluid.  By this we mean that your groups will change as students progress at different rates.  Hence the reassessing.  Once your groups are formed, you will assess your students regularly using anecdotal notes and running records. 


Effective Reading Instruction

Guided reading is an important part of an effective comprehensive reading program which should also include interactive read-alouds, shared reading, phonics instruction, interactive writing and independent reading.  A complete reading program should be at least 90 minutes and will cover phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Blog Posts


Hi, we're Jackie, LeighAnn and Jessica

We are a team of kindergarten teachers turned educational consultants.  We help teachers like you with:

  • easy to implement resources
  • kindergarten curriculum
  • fantastic ideas and tips to start in your classroom immediately

Our goal is to help you achieve success in your classroom while having fun with your students!

Subscribe to get the latest updates and all the freebies!

On the blog...