Favorite Books

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The Books Listed Below Are Loaded with Ideas to Help You Create Experiential Reading Activities for Your Students


Here are just a few of my favorite resources to help you create experiential reading activities for your students.  Some will guide your reading assessments, some will help you learn how people learn to read, and others will show you reading strategies you can adapt for experiential HPR arena activities. Ideas can be shared with parents and fellow educators or used as possible follow-up activities to Horse Powered Reading sessions. I have included links to Amazon for your convenience. 


Dr. Michele Pickel


Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary by Brenda J. Overturf, Leslie Montgomery and Margot Holmes Smith (Feb 13, 2013)

FANTASTIC resource to help you build vocabulary in your students through Experiential Reading Activities!!!


Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School Paperback by John Medina  (Author)

In Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist, shares his lifelong interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children and the way we work.

This book will help you explain to colleagues and parents what makes  Experiential Reading and Horse Powered Reading so POWERFUL!

Betsy's Day at the Game Paperback by Greg Bancroft  (Author) , Katherine Blackmore (Illustrator) (2013)

This is a fun book to connect with Experiential Reading Activities! Go to the publisher's website:  http://www.mightymediapress.com/betsys-day-game to find the "Educator Activity Guide" created by Dr. Pickel.

The Reading Teacher's Book of Lists (J-B Ed: Book of Lists) by Edward B. Fry Ph.D., Jacqueline E. Kress Ed.D. and Dona Lee Fountoukidis Ed.D. (Feb 2000)

This resource provides over 190 up-to-date lists for developing instructional materials and planning lessons that might otherwise take years and much effort to acquire. Organized into 15 convenient sections brimming with practical examples, key words, teaching ideas, and activities that can be used as is or adapted to meet the students' needs, these lists are ready to be photocopied as many times as needed for individual, small group, or class use.

50 Literacy Strategies: Step-by-Step (4th Edition) (Teaching Strategies Series) by Gail E. Tompkins (May 5, 2012) 

The new edition of 50 Literacy Strategies: Step by Step by Gail E. Tompkins is a conveniently organized resource for all elementary and middle school teachers, providing research-based and classroom-tested strategies to develop literacy skills. Everything you need to know to implement, adapt, and enrich each strategy is included in a consistent, easy-to-understand format.



Research-Based Methods of Reading Instruction, Grades K-3 by Sharon Vaughn (Aug 1, 2004)

Provides a comprehensive overview of the five core instructional areas and how each affects student achievement: 

* Phonemic awareness
* Phonics and Word Study
* Fluency
* Vocabulary
* Comprehension 

The authors include dozens of reading activities and lesson plans that teachers can use immediately, all of which have worked in actual classrooms and are grounded in solid research.

Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis (2007)

Strategies That Work is a great resource for teachers who want to explicitly teach thinking strategies so that students become engaged, thoughtful, independent readers. Stephanie and Anne have extended the scope of the book and explore the central role that activating background knowledge plays in understanding. Great for comprehension idea starters! Super for working with upper elementary and middle school students.

Self-Paced Phonics: A Text for Educators (5th Edition) by Roger S. Dow and G. Thomas Baer (Feb 5, 2012)

Self-Paced Phonics: A Text for Educators, Fifth Edition, is the ideal resource to get practical instruction that helps develop a sound understanding of both the content and pedagogy of phonics. More than a tutorial in phonics, this self-regulating, self-monitoring resource covers both the content and pedagogy of phonics. Designed for use with a minimum of instruction, at the reader’s own pace, the book is particularly teacher-friendly.

Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers by Steven Layne (Nov 28, 2009)

When teaching reading, American classrooms often focus exclusively on skills instruction. But how can you teach the “how” without the “why?”  In his new book, Igniting a Passion for Reading, Steve Layne shows teachers how to develop readers who are not only motivated to read great books, but also love reading in its own right. Packed with practical ways to engage and inspire readers from kindergarten through high school, this book is a “must-have” on every teacher’s professional book shelf.

Clean Language:Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds by Wendy Sullivan and Judy Rees (Dec 30, 2008)

What Is Clean Language? Clean Language was first developed in the 1980s and 90s by psychotherapist David Grove as he sought to find respectful and effective ways to work with trauma victims. The approach he devised was based on a new type of questioning (and listening) that was rooted in honoring the client's language rather than paraphrasing it, reserving advice rather than pushing it, and cleaning up his own communications with respect to assumptions and metaphors. 

How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esmé Raji Codell (Jun 6, 2003)

Are children reading enough? Not according to most parents and teachers, who know that reading aloud with children fosters a lifelong love of books, ensures better standardized test scores, promotes greater success in school, and helps instill the values we most want to pass on. Here are hundreds of easy and inventive ideas, innovative projects, creative activities, and inspiring suggestions that have been shared, tried, and proven with children from birth through eighth grade.

This is a great book to share with parents! 

Assessment for Reading Instruction, Second Edition (Solving Problems in the Teaching of Literacy) by Michael C. McKenna and Katherine A. Dougherty Stahl (Dec 30, 2008) 

This guide combines crucial background knowledge with hands-on tools. In a large-size format for easy photocopying, the book features more than two dozen reproducibles. It covers all the essentials of planning, administering, scoring, and interpreting a wide range of formal and informal assessments. Helpful examples illustrate effective ways to evaluate K-8 students' strengths and weaknesses in each of the core competencies that good readers need to master. This is helpful for program evaluation as well as research.

Qualitative Reading Inventory (5th Edition) by Lauren Leslie (Feb 1, 2010)

This informal reading inventory offers not only quantitative data about a student, but reveals rich qualitative information as well to guide instruction.  You will likely need to allow 20-40 minutes to administer this assessment, but you will gain excellent insight from it.

The newer edition, QRI-6,  has several improvements that make it a bit easier to use.  However, you can probably find a used copy of the 5th or 4th edition quite a bit cheaper. 

Intervention Strategies to Follow Informal Reading Inventory Assessment: So What Do I Do Now? (2nd Edition) by JoAnne Schudt Caldwell and Lauren Leslie (Jul 29, 2008) 

This book is effective to be used alongside an Informal Reading Inventory such as the Qualitative Reading Inventory. The informal reading inventory examiner can use it to suggest specific instructional directions in his/her evaluation report. The classroom teacher can use this book to base instruction on informal reading assessment which s/he may or may not have conducted. The classroom teacher will also find many instructional suggestions that can be used with all students, not just those who are struggling with reading.

Do You Have A Book Title To Share?


If you have any go-to experiential reading book titles that you would like to share with others, we would love to hear about them! Please leave us a message on our "Contact Us" page with the title and author of the book, as well as a brief description of why it is one of your favorites! 

Thank you for contributing to Horse Powered Reading! 

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