Literature Anthologies:
The Task for First-Grade Readers

CIERA Report #1-009

Shailaja Menon and Elfrieda H. Hiebert
University of Michigan

CIERA Inquiry 1: Readers and Texts
What are the characteristics of readers and texts that have the greatest influence on early reading? What are the tasks posed to young readers by currently available beginning reading programs?

In this study, Menon and Hiebert consider the tasks for beginning readers posed by currently available beginning reading programs.The authors identified a set of guidelines for evaluating beginning reading texts. According to their model, such texts should be engaging , accessible , and generalizable . Menon and Hiebert used these guidelines to examine the literature components of three influential first-grade reading programs--a Literature-Core (LC), a mixed Literature/Phonics (LP), and a Phonics-Core (PC) program.

Menon and Hiebert found that (a) all three programs rated favorably on the content portion of the engagingness scale, though the LC program rated higher in terms of language and design; (b) none of the texts proved to be very accessible; and (c) all of the programs introduce children to most of the 100 most frequent words in English. However, even the very early texts introduce children to a large number of rimes without providing many repetitions of them, which renders the text less generalizable.

As a group, these three programs do not attend to text characteristics that are crucial in promoting reading acquisition. If struggling readers are not to be left behind, these issues must be addressed before early reading texts are published and selected.

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