Ten Principles in Literacy Programs That Work (page 3)

By — Reading Recovery Council of North America
Updated on Jul 26, 2007


Comprehension: Teach students to construct meaning from print.

Reading Recovery students are taught that what they read must make sense. Instruction helps students develop a variety of strategies directed toward helping children search for meaning as they read. In fact, the Reading Recovery teacher assures that children never lose meaning by careful text selection, careful introduction, and conversation about the story. These strategies (called a self-extending system) include helping children

  • monitor their own reading and writing;
  • search for cues in word sequences, in meaning, and in letter sequences;
  • discover new things for themselves;
  • repeat as if to confirm the reading or writing so far;
  • self-correct, taking the initiative for making cues match or getting words right; and
  • solve new words by using all the above strategies.


Balanced, Structured Approach: Provide a balanced approach so that literacy develops along a broad front and students can apply skills in reading and writing.

Reading Recovery consists of an interrelated set of learning experiences. Teachers intentionally work to be sure that students make connections across components of the lesson framework. A key concept in Reading Recovery is that "every new thing learned should be revisited in several other activities." A lesson consists of a variety of activities including reading and comprehending both familiar and new texts, writing a message of importance to the child, phonemic awareness, letter-sound correspondence, basic sight words, fluency, and teaching for strategic processing. It is this balance of activities, providing the opportunity to use skills in many ways, that allows for acceleration.


Early Intervention: Intervene early to undercut reading failure.

Reading Recovery is a short-term (12 to 20 weeks) safety net intervention. Children are entered into Reading Recovery at a critical time in their school careers (age six or during first grade). Reading Recovery helps children make accelerated progress and catch up with their first-grade peers. The program also helps students continue to progress with good, ongoing classroom teaching. It is a supplementary opportunity and is not intended to replace classroom instruction.


Individual Tutoring: Provide one-to-one assistance for the students who are having the most difficulty.

Reading Recovery is defined as one-to-one tutoring. It is not a classroom program; it is not a small group program. Quite simply, if the instruction is not one-to-one, it is not Reading Recovery.

A complete copy of Reading Recovery: An Analysis of a Research-Based Reading Intervention can be downloaded in pdf format:

Download pages 6-30
Download pages 31-55
Download pages 56-75

1 Pikulski, J.J. (1994, September). Preventing reading failure: A review of five effective programs. The Reading Teacher, 48:1, 30-39.
2 Pinnell, G.S. (2000). Reading Recovery: An analysis of research-based reading intervention. Columbus, OH: Reading Recovery Council of North America.

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