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Classroom Strategies

Reading Guides


Reading Guides help students navigate reading material, especially difficult textbook chapters or technical reading. Students respond to a teacher-created written guide of prompts as they read an assigned text. Reading Guides help students to comprehend the main points of the reading and understand the organizational structure of a text. 


Reading Guides are teacher-created and may be developed for a variety of subjects and reading levels. The strategy is especially helpful when used with text that is more difficult than students could comprehend through independent reading. Reading Guides may be used with the whole class, small groups or for individual work. 

Create and use the strategy

The teacher determines the major concepts from an assigned text and considers each students’ knowledge related to the concepts. Teachers then write items designed to guide readers through the major ideas and supporting details of the text. Guides may be phrased as statements or as questions. 

Begin the activity by introducing the assigned text and discussing the main concepts. Then present the items on the Reading Guide. Students read the assigned text and complete the tasks on the Reading Guides during the reading process. Monitor and support students as they work. 

Note: As students gain proficiency at completing Reading Guides, they may design their own guides and provide support for one another. 

Sample content for a reading guide

The following is a list of sample items that teachers might include on a Reading Guide:

  • What is the main idea of the text? 
  • The author’s purpose for writing the text is…
  • The author discusses the differences between ____ and ____ . 
  • What are the important dates discussed in the reading? 
  • The most significant contribution of ____ was…
  • What might be your personal experiences related to the reading? 
  • The author’s motivation for writing the text was…


Horton, S.V., & Lovitt, T.C. (1989). Using study guides with three classifications of secondary students. Journal of Special Education, 22(4), 447-462.

SEDL. (2008). Building Reading Proficiency at the Secondary Level: A Guide to Resources