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Challenging and Engaging Talented and Advanced Readers

Highlights from Expert Series

The following article shares highlights and insights from one of our Expert Series events, which are exclusive for Young Scholars and their parents.

This session includes an overview of the characteristics of talented readers and also the types of strategies to engage and challenge them. l also summarize research on this population and provided information about what currently happens to this advanced group students in many American classrooms. This group of students has specialized needs involving specific differentiated reading strategies that are necessary to help them continue to progress in reading, both in comprehension as well as engagement. The results of this research on talented readers is presented in this session, as are numerous suggestions for helping advanced readers make continuous progress in reading and continue to enjoy reading both at school and home.

General categories of reading support that are dynamic in nature and designed to enable some flexibility of implementation and content in response to students’ needs and interests. This approach is based on principles from the Enrichment Triad Model (Renzulli, 1977) with three levels of enrichment: exposure to areas in which students might have interests, reading strategy and methods instruction, and opportunities to pursue self-selected topics of interest to students. The emphasis of the parental experiences with advanced readers should focus on enjoyment in the process of reading, accompanied by reading enrichment experiences. For example, parents can select literature to read aloud to students, interspersed with strategy-based questioning and thinking skills. The session introduced the idea of “book hooks” to increase student exposure to literature and to build student interest, suggesting that parents can introduce high-interest books to begin this read-aloud engaging time with children. This helps to engage students’ interests and expose them to a variety of literary genres including mysteries, poetry, historical and science fiction, biographies, autobiographies, and other non-fiction. The session also emphasized the development of students’ self-regulation skills while reading of self-selected books coupled with enjoyable reading conferences.

Tips for Engaging Advance Readers

  1. Provide high interest book hooks that expose children to many different topics
  2. Provide exposure to challenging reading by introducing different genres and types of reading experience
  3. Use freedom to choose books, but help with guidance to select appropriately challenging books as part of the reading that children do at home, trying to offer advanced  opportunities in content that is in areas of personal interest to expose students to some supported challenge
  4. Find a quiet space during regularly scheduled time for children to read without distraction on a daily basis
  5. If parents feel comfortable, discuss reading strategies as applied to challenging books and books in areas of interest.
  6. Ask one or two questions while reading with your children and give wait time for thoughtful responses
  7. If students are struggling with advanced content, discuss reflection on self-regulation strategies when students are reading
  8. Most of all, keep the reading experience fun with your children! Enjoyment is the goal!

Additional Resources

Authored by: Sally Reis
Bio: Sally Reis holds the Letitia Neag Chair in Educational Psychology in the Neag School of Education at University of Connecticut. She is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, and a Teaching Fellow. She formerly served as Vice Provost for Academic Affairs where she worked to enhance undergraduate programs, career development, and excellence in teaching. She also served as the Department Head of the Educational Psychology Department. She has authored and co-authored more than 270 articles, books, book chapters, monographs and technical reports, and worked in a research team that has generated over 60 million dollars in grants during the last 20 years. Her scholarship on academically talented students and strength-based pedagogy is diverse and broad, as summarized by her numerous articles, books, book chapters, monographs, and technical reports. She has won multiple awards, including being named a fellow of The American Psychological Association.

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