Practickle: Where Reading Is Made Run!


Z is for Moose is a rare alphabet book that mixes humor with letter/sound relationships.   Kelly Bingham has delivered a delightful book that your young readers will request repeatedly.

Zebra is trying to stage a production about the letters and sounds of the alphabet. “A is for apple. B is for ball.” How hard can this be? Enter: Moose! Like many children, Moose has trouble waiting his turn. He enters again and again on the wrong pages.

The order and predictability of regular alphabet books leads you to think that Moose must wait until after the L page for his turn. Ms. Bingham’s text will surprise both your reader and you.

In her book dedication, Kelly Bingham writes, “For Sam, who asked for a funny book.” She has certainly achieved her goal!

Check out This video is very funny! Your child is already learning the alphabet or practicing the sounds of the alphabet. Why not add additional fun to your practice!


The Value of a Word Wall

To continue working with the new vocabulary from the second reading find a place in your home to display the list of selected vocabulary words. This list can be on the refrigerator, in the hallway, or anyplace in your house that has high visibility. This word wall can be informal. It can be a large piece of paper with the words written in marker. It can be creative with different colors used to group words by source (words from the same book in the same color) or words that are related (nouns in one color, verbs in another, etc.)

The importance of the word wall is that it is an ongoing display of new vocabulary. It keeps the words visible, serving as a reminder of the words that your child has learned.

Make the wall come alive by occasionally talking about the words that are on the list. Make connections between new words and old words. You child might even be able to read some of the words.

The work by Robert Marzano is frequently cited in literacy staff development for educators K – 12.

His research tells us:
“Students’ comprehension will increase by 33 percentile points when vocabulary instruction focuses on specific words important to the content they are reading as opposed to words from high-frequency lists [teaching frequently-occurring words out of context]. To illustrate, … consider Students A and B, who have been asked to read and understand new content. Student B, who has not received systematic vocabulary instruction, scores at the 50th percentile. Student A, who has received such instruction, scores at the 83rd percentile.

In summary, the case for direct vocabulary instruction is strong. From a number of perspectives, the research indicates that wide reading probably is not sufficient in itself to ensure that students will develop the necessary vocabulary and consequently the necessary academic background knowledge to do well in school. In contrast, direct vocabulary instruction has an impressive track record of improving students’ background knowledge and the comprehension of academic content.” Marzano, Robert J. Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement: Research on What Works in Schools. Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2004. (pages 68 and 69) ISBN 0-87120-972-1



Links to Other Resources We Support:


This site has many resources that support the Practickle approach.


So many contributions from teachers. Easy for parents to navigate. Resources are easy for parents to use.

No Time for Flashcards

So many links and ideas for parents and caregivers.

PBS Kids

Great resources. Many link to the PBS series for kids. Lots to choose from.

Reading Rockets

Connected to PBS. Great links for parents and caregivers on any topic related to early literacy.

Get Ready to Read

This site is run by a for-profit company, but it has many free resources.


There are many excellent read-alouds done on youtube. Search the book title of your choice. It is great for kids to hear multiple interpretations of a text.


Links on the Brain Research and Reading Comprehension Best Practices behind Practickle

“Comprehension Instruction That Works”

Michael Pressley wrote this article and the one below. He compiles research and then summarizes it in an easy to read-and-understand style. The Best Practices that he describes are divided into three groups: World Knowledge (referred to in the Practickle guides as Activating Prior Knowledge), Active Comprehension Strategies, and Monitoring.


Comprehension Instruction: What Makes Sense Now, What Might Make Sense Soon

by Michael Pressley

From this article: “Traditionally, there has been a tendency among educators to view the primary grades as the time to hone word-recognition skills, with comprehension developed in the later grades. Increasingly, this view is rejected, with many demonstrations that interventions aimed at improving comprehension — that is, interventions beyond word-recognition instruction — do, in fact, make an impact during the primary years. The authors in the Block and Pressley edited book, in particular, recognize that the starting point for the development of many comprehension skills is modeling of those skills. Hence, there is much commentary in the book about modeling, monitoring, and so on. Also, the authors were impressed that when researchers have asked primary-level students to use comprehension strategies and monitoring, the children have benefited greatly from it (Brown et al., 1996). There is definitely interest in expanding comprehension instruction in the early literacy experiences, with the expectation that such instruction will affect 5- to 8-year-olds dramatically in the short term and perhaps lead to development of better comprehension skills over the long term.”


Repeated Interactive Read-Alouds in Preschool and Kindergarten

by Lea M. McGee and Judith Schickedanz

This article is the best I’ve seen at explaining the research that is the foundation of Practickle. We include even more research, such as: having a single cognitive focus for each reading, including standards-based questions that look at the big ideas of the story or informational text, building vocabulary, and providing opportunities for the reading-writing connection.


So much of the brain research I use is mentioned in this article.

Scroll down through this article until you come to the section on: The Read-Aloud Plus Text Talk Maximizes Learning.



Im too busy to use Practickle!


Consider these opportunities:

  • Have a play date with other children.
  • Enrich the play time by using the Practickle book and guide with the group. It will enhance your child’s comprehension by hearing the inferences, observations, and questions of other children.
  • Don’t worry about using the entire guide. Just remember the purpose of each reading. The first reading focus  is on the illustrations. If you’re doing the second reading, read the book and talk about a couple of vocabulary words that you would like to add to your child’s vocabulary. The  purpose of the third reading is to talk about the big ideas and connections in the book as you and your child share the job of reading the story.
  • You are already reading to your child at some time during the day. This isn’t an additional activity that needs to be inserted into your day. Practickle enriches one of the most important activities that you do with your child. Since you’re already doing this, do it the Practickle way!
  • Keep one or two of the Practickle books in your child’s backpack or your car. It seems that there are always times when you’re waiting somewhere (a doctor’s office, or sitting with one child while waiting for another of your children). Pull out one of the books, and read it the Practickle way. As you get more familiar with the Practickle way, you’ll find yourself able to sit down anywhere any time and read the Practickle way.
  • Purchase Practickle for your day care provider. Your child will get the wonderful reading framework from another person who is reading to your child each day.

How is Practickle Great for Preschool and Homeschool Curriculum

*Curriculum is not to be confused with standards. Standards is the what to teach. Curriculum is the how to teach (teaching strategies and materials).

The Practickle reading guides are a unique combination of Reading Comprehension Best Practices, the national Kindergarten through Grade 2 English Language Arts Standards, and brain research. Instructors spend significant time gathering quality resources and designing lessons containing these three components. These scripted guides are ready to print and use, needing just the personal tweaking that each instructor will do to adapt the readings to the needs of the students.

The four books selected each month for Practickle’s users are award-winning books covering a range of genre.

The guides are developed and tested by an award-winning teacher with over forty years experience in the classroom and in training teachers.

Links for Articles with Research Supporting the Practickle Approach:

  • Six recommendations to improve reading in the primary grades.
  • David Pearson is one of the most enduring and highly respected researchers on reading. In fact, he is one of the keynote speakers at this year’s International Reading Association Convention.
  • Launching Young Readers
  • PBS’s  is a wealth of information for anyone reading with children. Check out the content of each episode in the wonderful series “Launching Young Readers”. Watch an entire episode of a segment. Very good!
  • An article that gives an overview of research based suggestions for the teaching of reading comprehension. Mr. Wilhelm is a nationally recognized author on this topic.

How does Practickle support Kindergarten Readiness?

Kindergarten readiness is determined by evaluating the emotional, academic, and social skills necessary to succeed in a formal educational setting.

Brain research reveals the importance of early experiences in developing the brain’s future capabilities. Research, also, reveals that it takes several years to develop the brain circuitry necessary for deep comprehension.

Practickle’s guides are based on the Kindergarten through Grade 2 English Language Arts- Reading Standards. The Reading Standards highlighted below are examples of the kinds of skills the Practickle guides build:

  • Read from a broad range of literary and informational texts and recognize common types of text.
  • Recognize text structure and story elements such as characters, setting, and major events.
  • Describe the relationship between illustrations or pictures and the text.
  • Identify the main topic and key details of an informational text.
  • Describe the connection between two individuals, two events, two ideas, or two pieces of information.
  • Compare and contrast the experiences of characters in familiar stories.
  • Identify the reasons an author gives to support a point.
  • Identify the similarities and differences between two texts on the same topic.


Use of the guides builds a child’s ability to talk about a book in thinking patterns (forming inferences, analyzing, and evaluating)  that build the circuitry to understand text deeply.


How Can I Recognize A Quality Preschool

The answer to that question depends on who you ask. Parents tend to look for preschools that highlight the academic skills that are needed to succeed in most kindergartens. Educators tend to look at a preschool environment that nurtures the whole child, viewing social and emotional skills as equally important as physical and cognitive skills.

After talking with a number of educators and reading a plethora of articles I found this short excerpt from School and Home (National Association of School Psychologists) “Ten Signs of a Great Preschool” to be the best summary of what many professionals are advocating.

Ten Signs of a Great Preschool

Placing your child into a preschool program will supply further reinforcement of your child’s general school readiness skills. However, as with anything else in life, some preschool programs are better than others. What follows is adapted from a list of 10 indicators of quality preschools prepared by the National Association for the Education of Young Children:

  1. 1. Children are mainly active in the classroom; that is, playing and/or working with other children or materials.
  2. 2. Children have access to various hands-on materials and activities.
  3. 3. Children receive individual and small-group time with the teachers, and not solely large-group time. *Note that children are receiving individual and small-group time with teachers. Inquire if this is a part of your child’s preschool day and what kinds of activities would your child experience in these situations.
  4. 4. Children’s work is displayed in the classroom.
  5. 5. Children learn numbers and the alphabet throughout the entire day; that is, their learning of these constructs in embedded into everyday activities. *Inquire about how this is accomplished in your child’s situation.
  6. 6. Children are given at least an hour to play and explore with little worksheet use.
  7. 7. Children are provided a daily opportunity to play outside.
  8. 8. Children are read to by teachers, individually, and in small-groups.
  9. 9. Children receive adapted curriculum dependent upon their own individual needs.
  10. 10. Children and parents are excited about the preschool; that is, children are happy and do not regularly cry or complain.

Here is the link to the full article.

*Italicized statements are my additions, not the author of the article.


FAQ ‘s about Practickle

What is Practickle?

Practickle is an educational opportunity for family, care-providers, and educators  interested in using story-time for comprehension practice  that is before and beyond the classroom.

Practickle realizes that not all parents and care providers are trained teachers and don’t have time to research both quality literature and Best Practices in comprehension for our three to five year olds. Practickle will provide a  well-reviewed book and an easy-to-follow reading guide to you. So, let’s use twenty minutes three times a week to teach our little ones how to  think  about and understand what they read.


How are books selected?

Our criteria for selection are:

  • an equal balance of both fiction and informational books
  • a balance between popular and notable books from previous years, new books, and past and present award winners
  • appearances on numerous “recommended” reading lists: American Library Association (ALA) Notable Books lists (published each year), Caldecott Winners and Honor books, NY Times Recommended Children’s Books, and popular review sites such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

PracTickle wants to select books that are easy to find…..common titles that may already be in your home, in your public library, or easy to purchase.


What is a reading comprehension Best Practice?

A reading comprehension Best Practice is a strategy or method that helps the reader comprehend a text at multiple levels complexity. These strategies and methods continue to produce superior results over time.  Reading Comprehension Best Practices work whether you are five, fifteen, or fifty!


What if I have not completed the reading in twenty minutes?

Stop after twenty minutes whether you are done with the “read” or not. We must keep in mind the attention-span of the listener. Then, the next time that you sit down for a guided read begin where you left off.


Why should I follow this procedure instead of just having “fun” with my listeners?

Early childhood research show that the best step to help children be ready for the cognitive demands of kindergarten is to start with quality experiences before kindergarten. As you use these reading guides, you will realize that you are having more fun during your sessions than just reading a book to get a couple of stories done before bedtime……and your child will, too.


What will my child/children gain from this approach to reading books?

The single biggest indicator of success in school is how well a child understands the text being read. Schools know that teachers must develop multiple lessons on the  direct explicit instruction of Reading Comprehension Best Practices strategies. Let’s start early. Vocabulary building, done during the second reading, is another resource to help you strengthen your child’s comprehension. Research studies have shown strong links between having an extensive vocabulary and achieving school success.


Why must I read the story three times?

The cognitive load of our brains is about five new pieces of information at a time. Our brains lose their focus when we handle too many things at once. As the saying goes: “If everything is important, then nothing is important.” First, focus on all the levels of information that are in the illustrations/pictures. This opens up our brain to what connections to the book might already be in our prior knowledge. We practice making inferences, predictions,and conclusions. During the second reading, we introduce the text and specific vocabulary. Our brain has already opened its existing connections to the topic of the book and the other story elements introduced in the pictures/illustrations. There is only the new information that the text provides. The third reading is the part where the information from the first two reads is analyzed. The readers are asked to evaluate, create, and make additional connections. The increases in comprehension, involvement and retention of story elements will increase….and so will your enjoyment of your “story time!”



Educational Objectives of Practickle

Each of Practickle’s reading guides have a single standards-based focus:

  • The guide for each First Reading is scripted page by page using the information in features such as illustrations, photographs, and charts,tables or graphs to activate the prior knowledge of the listener and to make inferences about the story elements.
  • The guide for each Second Reading is scripted page by page focusing on the text and vocabulary (both new words and figurative language). The guide provides child-friendly definitions of the new and unique words that an author chooses. The questions relating focus on clarifying the inferences made during the First Reading and the story elements.
  • The guide for each Third Reading focuses on analyzing the story or informational text as a whole. There are big idea questions relating to such text elements as: character development, theme, and main idea.
  • The Third Reading usually contains activities that to build the vocabulary of the listener. There are, also, activities to meet the English Language Arts Standards – Writing and Viewing.
  • The guides cover many of the English Language Arts Standards – Reading for Kindergarten through Grade 2.


In addition to addressing the English Language Arts standards, each Practickle guide is a direct, explicit instructional plan to facilitate practice of one of the Reading Comprehension Best Practices.

The structure of the Practickle guides is based on brain research. There is a singular focus for each of the readings. Practickle uses repetition of the Best Practices and the standards skills to build the brain circuitry necessary for deep comprehension.

These guides are developed to provide a quality reading experience that is ready for a teacher to use. Instead of spending time creating these guides for the direct, explicit instruction of reading comprehension skills, the teacher has a starting point for the lesson needing just to tweak the guides to tailor the instruction appropriate for each group of learners.


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