What Kind of Reader Are You?

Author: Jill Torrey Emmons

Time: 1 class period
15 minutes to make copies
Materials: Copies of readers survey


One way in which students can begin to build a better relationship with reading is by recognizing how reading has affected them throughout their lives. Some students will have a strong connection to reading already—some may need to build that relationship that has not yet been developed. Regardless of where students are at with their reading skills, this lesson stresses that all students have abilities and skills that can be built upon. The idea is to help students explore what skills they already have, what skills they need to develop, and what their reading goals are for the year.

Purpose – In this lesson students will be able to explore what role reading has played in their lives, and discover what kind of readers they are. Students will be encouraged to uncover their strengths, weaknesses, and preferences as readers.

Students will be able to:
1. Write a personal reading history about how reading has influenced their lives.
2. Identify their strengths, weaknesses, and preferences as readers through a survey.
3. Examine what goes on in their minds while they read and share this in discussion groups.

National English Education Standard
Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experiences, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

Teacher Background
Texts for this lesson can be taken from any variety of sources, but one very useful text is:
Building Academic Literacy: An Anthology for Reading Apprenticeship
Audrey Fielding (Editor), Ruth Schoenbach (Editor)
ISBN: 0-7879-6555-3

Related and Resource Websites

An excerpt from Reading for Understanding: http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/61/07879655/0787965561.pdf



Day One
1. Before students arrive, write the following questions on the board: “Who taught you how to read? Do you remember the first book you ever read? What is your favorite book of all time and why? Do you like to read? Why or why not?” These questions will get students thinking about their relationship with reading in preparation for writing their personal reading history.

2. As students enter the class, greet them at the door. Have them write down their answers to the questions of the day in a notebook or on a sheet of paper, but remind them to keep all their responses as they may be useful for your assessment later on. Give them about 5 to 10 minutes for this procedure each day (freshmen seem to respond well to this routine). After students have written their responses, encourage them to share a little bit with the class about some of their reading experiences.

3. After this preparation, explain to the students that reading has probably played a larger role in their lives than they are aware. Tell them that in order to understand how important reading has been in their lives, they must dig back into their past experiences and think about their relationship with written texts. Give the class 15-20 minutes to write their personal reading history, which should tell about their experiences with reading. Students at times may struggle to remember details this far back in their lives, but prompt them with questions such as:

a) What was the first book you read?
b) Did anyone read to you as a child? Who? How did you feel about that?
c) Did you always like reading? When did you enjoy it and when did it feel like a chore?
d) At what age did you read the most? In what situations, places?
e) Did anyone in particular encourage you to read?
f) How many books would you guess are in your house?
g) How many books have you read in your life (estimate)?
h) Have you read more in school or more at home? Why do you think this is?

4. The last part of the class could be handled in several ways. You could allow students to share their reading histories, in their own words or by reading them aloud (this activity builds the social dimension of your classroom, encouraging students to test their limits and begin to trust one other). The reader’s survey would then become homework to be done independently. You may choose to do the reader’s survey during the last 20 minutes of class. Pair students and have them interview each other and write down their partner’s responses. This activity also builds the classroom community, which is helpful at the beginning of the year.

Ask the students to share their experiences with a partner and see what similarities and differences they find in comparing their reading histories.

Embedded Assessment
This is the teacher’s opportunity to not only to assess where the students are at with reading, but also to get to know their preferences as readers. This knowledge can be a tremendous help in determining what kinds of texts to select for future reading in your class. Floating around the room and reading a bit of what students are writing is a wonderful avenue for assessment and students generally enjoy a few minutes of one-on-one feedback. In this explore stage lesson, you want the students themselves to be self-evaluating their reading abilities.

Reader’s survey (if you chose not to do this in class).

Embedded Assessment



PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

1996-2007, The University of Arizona
Last update: November 10, 2009
  Page Content: Rachel Hughes
Web Master: Travis Biazo