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Dedicated to Teachers

Jen Serravallo on New Strategies for Reading with Accuracy

The Reading Strategies Book 2.0  Launches Blog Header GraphicEditor's Note: The below blog post was originally published in June 2021. Since then, a new, expanded, and extensively researched edition of author Jennifer Serravallo’s trusted literacy guide for teachers has been released! The Reading Strategies Book 2.0 is available now.
Learn more about the new edition:


Jennifer Serravallo has overhauled Chapter 3 in her beloved Reading Strategies Book and is making the resulting 30 strategies available at no charge to educators who have the book. In the letter below she tells you all about it.

To access these new strategies, you will need an account on Heinemann.com. Either log into your Heinemann.com account or create an account. Once you log into Heinemann.com, click the link that says, “Register an Online Resource, Video, or eBook.” Then enter this code:


You’ll be asked to authenticate your registration, so keep a copy of The Reading Strategies Book at hand. “Reading with Accuracy” will remain available online only at this time.

Jennifer Serravallo Head Shot 400 Square ds jam (1)Dear Colleague,

I approach everything I do as an educator with responsiveness: to student and teacher needs, and to research. I read articles and attend conferences constantly to stay up-to-date, I try what I learn from my studies with students in real classrooms, and I offer recommendations to teachers that make applying this research doable--even in classrooms with large class sizes and an enormous range of learners, like those in which I taught and continue to work in each year. I trust teachers to be decision-makers and I hope my resources equip you with options you need to meet the varying needs in your classroom. 

With more than one thousand peer-reviewed articles published each year in education and related fields, findings are constantly evolving. In our enduring quest to make learning meaningful, relevant, responsive, and powerful to the children in our charge, we have the opportunity--and responsibility--to continue learning and growing, too. This reality means that as an author, with words printed permanently on pages, I sometimes find myself reading some new research, having an aha moment in a classroom with a student, or answering a wise question from a teacher and thinking: I wish I could have written then what I know now. Sometimes the research-based and student-tested updates I want to make can wait until my next publication, blog post, or workshop presentation. But this time, I wanted to give you my latest ideas, right away.

The chapter that follows this note is an update of Chapter 3 from The Reading Strategies Book, published in 2015. Since writing it back in 2014, I’ve worked with some children that needed strategies beyond what that chapter offered. These children inspired me to engage in a deep study of what neuroscientists, psychologists, speech and language pathologists, and linguists theorize and have been able to prove about the reading brain. Specifically, I’ve read countless articles (those most helpful to me have been by Nell Duke and Linnea Ehri), listened to many podcasts, attended various workshops and webinars (by Nell Duke, Carol Tomlin, Mark Seidenberg, and David Kilpatrick), and have studied (read, underlined, sticky-noted) a stack of books, most of which were published after Reading Strategies was released:

  • Mark Seidenberg’s Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, And What Can Be Done About It (2017)

  • Louisa Moats’ Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers, 3rd ed. (2020)

  • David Kilpatrick’s Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Disabilities (2015)

  • Maryanne Wolf’s Reader Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World (2018)

  • Daniel T. Willingham’s The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads (2017)

  • Heidi Mesmer’s Letter Lessons and First Words: Phonics Foundations That Work (2019)

  • Isabel and Mark Beck’s Making Sense of Phonics: The Hows and Whys (2013)

  • Wiley Blevins’ A Fresh Look at Phonics: Common Causes of Failure and 7 Ingredients for Success (2016)

From this reading, I now more deeply understand the importance of offering students working on word-level reading skills the strategies that will aid them in applying their knowledge of the alphabetic principle and what they’ve learned from phonological awareness, phonics, and spelling lessons to their reading of connected text. I understand how crucial it is that we support orthographic mapping (when readers make letter-sound—grapheme-phoneme—connections to bond the spelling, pronunciation, and meaning of words in memory) so that decoded words become sight words, allowing for automatic and fluent reading.  

And so, of the twenty-three strategies from the original version of this chapter, I’ve heavily revised about ten, and added twenty new ones to offer you thirty research-based options to choose from as you support your students, including those for whom learning to read is especially challenging. As with other strategies I’ve shared, these new strategies are not intended to be a phonics curriculum, and they and could never be a replacement for one. Instead, they are meant to help children apply and transfer what they learn from your systematic, explicit phonics and phonological awareness instruction to connected text reading. Along with the new and revised strategies, I have completely rewritten the introduction to the chapter to set an important research and theoretical context for those who may be unfamiliar with the scholars whose work I’ve studied. In addition, you’ll read in the introduction my updated advice about which assessments I now recommend to determine if this goal is right for your reader, and about how to select from the strategies within the chapter to match what students need.

To place these new strategies in the larger context of the book, we know from Scarborough’s Reading Rope framework (Scarborough 2001), the Simple View of Reading theory (Gough and Tunmer 1986), The Active View of Reading (Duke and Cartwright 2021), and countless researchers’ findings that teaching word-level strategies alone are not enough (Castles, Rastle, and Nation 2018; Wolf 2007). It remains crucial that word-level strategies like those in this chapter that focus on skills such as decoding, segmenting, and blending are taught alongside strategies for other areas of the Reading Rope: deepening comprehension, understanding the meaning of words and phrases and “language of books” (Wolf 2007), and developing fluency (Rasinski and Smith 2018). Also, we must support students in other crucial areas of reading such as active self-regulation, including motivation and engagement (Duke and Cartwright 2021). Strategies aligned to these other goals make up the remaining 277 strategies in The Reading Strategies Book and are as important now as ever

I’m incredibly grateful to be in a field where researchers and practitioners are constantly studying and working to outgrow our best thinking and new learning, and who share and collaborate. As your colleague, I feel a responsibility to share my learning with you and make my updated thinking easily available, and I invite you to join me in this important study. Above all, I hope this collection of strategies, along with those from the other chapters in The Reading Strategies Book, supports you as you provide instruction that helps your students to be capable, confident, and skilled readers who also love to read and choose to do so.

Yours in teaching and learning, 
- Jen


To access these new strategies, you will need an account on Heinemann.com. Either log into your Heinemann.com account or create an account. Once you log into Heinemann.com, click the link that says, “Register an Online Resource, Video, or eBook.” Then enter this code:


You’ll be asked to authenticate your registration, so keep a copy of The Reading Strategies Book at hand. “Reading with Accuracy” will remain available online only at this time.


**A special thank you to researchers Dr. Linnea Ehri and Dr. Maryanne Wolf, Speech and Language Pathologist Angie Neal and Sandra Maddox, literacy specialist and member of the South Carolina Learning Disabilities Task Force, who read my many drafts, fed me a steady supply of research, and gave critical feedback throughout the project.

Jen S 400 SquareJennifer Serravallo is the author of The New York Times Bestseller The Reading Strategies Book, and a dozen other popular professional books and resources that help teachers make goal-directed responsive strategy instruction, conferring, and small group work doable in every classroom. Along with The Reading Strategies Book 2.0, her newest titles include Teaching Writing in Small Groups, A Teacher’s Guide to Reading Conferences, and Understanding Texts and Readers. Serravallo began her career in education as a classroom teacher in the New York City public schools.

She has spent the last 15+ years helping teachers across the country create literacy classrooms where students are joyfully engaged and the instruction is meaningfully individualized to students' goals. Serravallo is also a member of Parents Magazine Board of Advisors for education and literacy. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College and a Master of Arts from Teachers College, where she has also taught graduate and undergraduate classes.


Topics: The Reading Strategies Book, Jennifer Serravallo, Reading Strategies

Date Published: 06/07/21

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