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Chapter 10 – Teaching reading

Chapter Summary

Many teachers find the four roles of a reader—code breaker, meaning maker, text user and text critic—useful for planning teaching activities in shared book and in guided reading. Code breaker involves understanding the alphabetic principle, phonemic awareness, letter knowledge and phonics. Meaning maker involves comprehending the text on a literal, interpretive and critical level. Text user involves identifying the purpose and text type or genre of a book or text. Different text types demand different kinds of reading. Text critics evaluate the author’s intentions and biases, as well as the truth or accuracy of the information. 

Teachers use three stages for planning reading lessons: before reading, during reading and after reading. Before reading, the teacher connects the book to children’s prior knowledge and interests. During reading, the teacher gives a range of problem-solving prompts to support the reader as they integrate information from several sources: syntax, meaning, sounds and letters. After reading, teachers plan activities that use the four roles of the reader. The four roles of the reader all work together in an integrated way.

Study Questions

Main ideas

What are the main theories affecting how to teach early reading? How does each theory influence the approach to teaching reading?
Define dyslexia and provide an example.
The four roles of a reader contain important teaching content. What do you teach a code breaker, meaning maker, text user and text critic?

Application to a developmental stage

Sometimes in a classroom there are children at the beginning reading stage and others at an advanced stage of reading. How do you design learning for a class that has beginning readers, some at grade level and some at an advanced stage?

Diverse learners

If children are learning English as a second language, do you think this affects learning to read in English? Why or why not?


How often do teachers assess a child’s reading? Do teachers record the child’s reading each week or each term? How do teachers explain reading growth to parents? (This varies so find out how one school does this).

Teaching plans

Select one of the four roles of a reader and then find the best teaching activity for that role. Explain your choice.