Characteristics of Talented Readers

As a group, talented readers are characterized by:
  • reading earlier than their peers,
  • spending more time reading,
  • reading a greater variety of literature, even into adulthood (Collins & Kortner, 1995; Halsted, 1990).
  • reading at least two grade levels above their chronological grade placement,
  • demonstrating advanced understanding of language,
  • having an expansive vocabulary,
  • perceiving relationships between and among characters,
  • grasping complex ideas (Catron & Wingenbach, 1986; Dooley, 1993; Levande, 1999)
  • having skills are advanced in relation to their peers,
  • possibly not profiting from conventional instruction in reading (Levande, 1999)
  • benefiting from diagnostically based instruction to ensure that their skills continually improve.

Needs of Talented Readers

Researchers who have examined practices for talented readers agree that regular reading instruction is often too easy for talented readers (Collins & Aiex, 1995; Dole & Adams, 1983; Reis & Renzulli, 1989; Shrenker, 1997) and that talented readers need different reading instruction. The appropriate match between a learner's abilities and the difficulty of the instructional work must be sought, and the optimal match should be instruction that is slightly above the learner's current level of functioning. As Chall and Conrad (1991) state, when the match is optimal, learning is enhanced; however, "if the match is not optimal [i.e., the match is below or above the child's level of understanding and knowledge], learning is less efficient and development may be halted" (p. 19).

Talented readers have responded well to:
  • high interest literature geared toward the students' reading levels rather than age (Renzulli, 1977),
  • instruction geared toward the students' strengths (Renzulli & Reis, 1985; 1997)
  • focus on developing higher level comprehension skills (Collins & Kortner, 1995)
  • use of higher level questioning and opportunities to incorporate prior knowledge in reading experiences
  • book discussions can also provide talented readers with the opportunity to interact with intellectual peers and to discuss their ideas in greater depth
  • reading conferences facilitated by a teacher and focused on themes and ideas rather than on facts and plot summaries (Halsted, 1990).

Unfortunately, using textbooks, basal readers, or even self-selected reading material that may be several years below students' reading level may create both halted development as well as motivational problems for talented readers. Some of your most talented readers may have learned to be lazy readers and may not react well to your attempts to challenge them to read at higher levels. The emphasis in school, however, must be on finding books that challenge and help talented readers to make continuous progress.

The following strategies can be used to challenge talented readers in your reading classroom and are an integral part of SEM-R:

  • Modification of the regular curriculum to eliminate skills and work that talented readers have already mastered
  • Acceleration of content
  • Substitution of regular reading material with more advanced trade books
  • Use of technology and the web
  • More complex assigned reading and writing
  • Challenging group novels assigned for discussion to two or more talented readers
  • Independent reading and writing choices
  • Reading on-line from some of the advanced choices provided in the SEM-R intervention
  • Independent study opportunities in an area of interest

20 Literature Response Questions for Any Book for Discussion or Writing Prompt

103 Things to do before, during, and after reading

Read Theory
What is Read Theory?Read Theory is a powerful educational tool that offers online reading activities for all ages and ability levels. Our custom web application adapts to students’ individual ability levels and presents them with thousands of skill building exercises that suit their need. Quizzes span the full rangeof reading levels, beginning with elementary school reading and ending with the most demanding college level passages. The program meets national benchmarks and is aligned with the Common Core State Standards(CCSS). is completely free of charge.

Read Works
ReadWorks provides K-12 teachers with integrated tools that have the biggest impact on the moment of instruction and learning in the classroom, online, for free, to be shared broadly.

Read Write Think
Providing educators and students access to the highest quality practices and resources in reading and language arts instruction.

Lexile Range and The Standards' Grade-Specific Text Complexity Demands from PA Common Core

Jacob's Ladder
Jacob’s Ladder, is a supplemental reading program that implements targeted reading from short stories, poetry, and nonfiction sources. Students are engaged in an inquiry process that moves from lower order to higher order thinking skills. Starting with basic literary understanding, students learn to critically analyze texts by determining implications and consequences, generalizations, main ideas, and/or creative synthesis. Tasks are organized into four skill ladders: A–D. Each ladder focuses on a different skill. Students “climb” each ladder by answering lower level questions before moving to higher level questions or rungs at the top of each ladder. Each ladder stands alone and focuses on a separate critical thinking component in reading.

Level 1 - Grades 2-3 Reading Level Lexile Score (450-790)
Level 2 - Grades 4-5 Reading Level Lexile Score (790-980)
Level 3 - Grades 6-8 Reading Level Lexile Score (955-1155)
Level 4 - Grades 7-9 Reading Level Lexile Score (1080-1305)
(See Gifted Support Teachers for information)

EPIC - Books for Kids Instantly Access Over 10,000 Books for Kids 12 and Under

Reading Rockets

Reading Vine
  • Personalized Learning

    Jane reads text. Jane gets bored. The text is too easy for Jane; she needs a bigger challenge. John reads text. John gets lost. John needs simplified text to beef up his reading skills. Reading Vine has both, with K-12 reading passages and worksheets for specific levels, grades and learning styles.
  • Search by Grade

    Search by skills. Search by vocabulary group, lexile measure or Common Core (CCSS). Search by topic, genre and even word count range. Choose your search criteria and then let Reading Vine go to town. Results will include a collection of available materials that match what you and your students are looking for.
  • Reading Skills Bonanza

    Your students may be able to read a passage of text, but can they find the main idea? Outline the plot? Explain the theme, setting, characters and genre? Reading Vine helps them do just that, with a focus on reading skills and related concepts.

Scholastic Book Files

Literacy Strategies for Gifted Readers

Middle School Literature Based Web Quests:

Reading Centers for Grades K-5
These activities provide for practice in small groups, based on individual student’s needs following explicit instruction.
Each standard is designated first by the grade level (e.g., K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), followed by a number or a number and a letter that designates the standard within the Reading Foundational Skills strand. Occasionally an activity will be listed with a foundational skill followed by a “sub.” While the activity does not directly address the foundational skill itself, the activity does reinforce a subordinate skill necessary to achieving that skill.

K12 Reader: Reading Instruction Resources

Sarah Plain and Tall Unit

Additional Resources

How to Analyze a Shakespearean Sonnet

A list of ways to analyze Shakespeare's verse (sonnets in particular):

  • Scansion and rhythm: how many syllables per line? How many accents? Is the line in strict iambic pentameter, or does it vary?
  • Rhyme: where are the rhymes? Are there visual as well as aural rhymes? Internal and/
  • Alliterations: repeated patterns of consonants
  • Assonance: repeated patterns of vowels
  • Onomatopoeia: "sound effect" words that sound like what they mean
    • These lead you to: the physical experience of the phonemes in the body. What emotional responses do you discover from these sounds?
  • Metaphors & similes: personifications of abstract qualities, or comparisons between different things
  • Meaning: parse the grammar and make sure you understand the sentence structure. Write the verse as if it were in prose and see what it reveals.
  • Who are you? What is the persona of the speaker?
  • Who are you speaking to? Who in the life of you, the actor, has occupied a similar emotional space?
  • Attitude/emotion: how do you feel about what you are saying?
  • Body words: can you use your full vocal range to resonate words that either directly or indirectly refer to head, eyes, heart, guts, etc., in the actual body parts named?
  • Microcosm/macrocosm: in Elizabethan times, the body was a microcosm of the universe, divided into a hierarchy of kingdoms that each had their own hierarchy. Can you use the hierarchy of the body (e.g., head = heaven, king; bowels = hell, earth, the lowborn) to find vocal resonance for those references?
  • Puns, jokes, double meanings: Shakespeare includes lots of sexual and scatological puns. Consult Shakespeare's Bawdy if you're unsure. There may be more body words than you originally thought.
  • Turning Points: Each sonnet has its own story arc. Where is the climax? Does the sonnet rely on the rhetorical device of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis to make its point? For speeches from the plays, how does the character's thought move and change through the speech? Where are the turning points? How does the structure of your sonnet or speech fit with the other sonnets or the scene?
  • Other rhetorical devices:
  • Antitheses: look for balanced but contrasted opposing words & phrases
  • Ladder: look for sequences of words or phrases that build to a climax
  • Chart the dramatic structure of your sonnet or speech, e.g.:

Let the visual shape of your chart reflect your own emotional understanding of the verse: curlicues? Sharp angles? Swoops?
  • Stage directions: does Shakespeare tell you how to stand, how to move, what you look like, what you are doing? Often these cues are contained in the text. Let him tell you what to do.
  • Latin vs. Anglo-Saxon: which words are from Latin and which from Anglo-Saxon? Where does he use monosyllables and where polysyllables? What emotional effects do those choices make? How does it feel in your voice?
  • 2nd person "thou" and "you": does Shakespeare use the familiar "thou" and "thee" (reserved for intimates and subordinates), or the more formal "you" ( used for those above you and as an honorific). Does he shift between those usages?
  • Visualize in detail the images described in your verse. Make a "movie in your head" of your verse that is as specific as possible

Traditional Sonnets for Analysis

Discovering Traditional Sonnet Forms

Creative Activities for Gifted Readers
(Recommended for Grade K-2)
This is a book of six units focusing on six thinking skills and four creative extensions. The thinking skills include literal, reorganization, interpretive, evaluation, appreciation and application. The four creative extensions are fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration.

Creative Activities for Gifted Readers
(Recommended for Grades 2 - 5)
This is a book of six units focusing on six thinking skills and four creative extensions. The thinking skills include literal, reorganization, interpretive, evaluation, appreciation and application. The four creative extensions are fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration.

Reading Comprehension Passages by Lexile

Ready-to-Use Independent Reading Management Kit
(Recommended for Advanced Readers Grades 1-2)
Ready-to-Use Independent Reading Management incorporate reading and writing activities that meet the diverse levels of learners in the primary classroom. It is a collection of independent reading contracts and activities, which are a series of activity packs that can be used with any book. For each contract, children make choices about which reading, writing, and skill-building activities they will complete. Making choices fosters a sense of responsibility and ownership, encouraging children to take the contracts seriously. Students learn to select appropriate books, organize the materials they need, and work independently on meaningful and structured activities that help them get the most out of their reading experiences. It allows teachers to work with one group of students while the rest work independently on their contracts.
Higher Order Thinking Question Template

Questions for Close Analytical Reading

Language Arts Needs of Gifted Students

Teaching Strategies that Stimulate Higher Level and Imaginative Thinking in Language Arts
Character Analysis with Depth Complexity -Student Worksheet
A-Z Booklet
A-Z Book on ….
  • Use for a unit of study in science, social studies, or a story you are reading
  • May only eliminate 3 letters of the ABCs
  • One page for each letter
  • At least one paragraph of importance based on facts related to the letter
  • If using it with a story use character traits, setting, etc but must include evidence from the story to support the inference/opinion/prediction/problem, etc.
  • May include research to additional information
  • May include an illustration along with the paragraph
Newsela is free to use. You do need to register and establish a username and password. It provides current news articles giving four version of an article at various Lexile scores. (ranging from grade 4 to 12.) You can print the articles along with their quiz or you might want to create a class and assign articles based on their Lexile score and have your students complete the reading and quiz online.

  • Please be aware the articles are based on current news so review the headlines to see if the topic would be appropriate for your students.
  • I would suggest to start with the area of science to explore articles.
  • Not all articles have a quiz.

Adapted Minds
Read Works
Skills/Strategy Units (Concepts of Comprehension)
Comprehension Units (Close Reading and Paired Text)
Novel Study Units (Multiple Genres)
Reading Passages (Leveled with Question Sets)
Science Passages to Teach Comprehension

Guide for Creating Questions

Reading List for Gifted Readers

Book Extension Activities

Maniac Magee Enrichment Activities

Stone Fox

The Cricket in Time Square

Island of the Blue Dolphin

Amelia Bedelia

Stuart Little

Call of the Wild

The Chocolate Touch

The Curse of Being Pharaoh

Misty of Chincoteague

Wayside School Gets Even a Little Stranger

The Lightning Thief

Reading, Spelling, and Writing Websites and Games for Gifted Students

  • Online Spelling Bees – Fun!
  • Rainbow magic – Games and activities based on the Rainbow Magic series – Lucy’s favorite chapter books in Kindergarten!
  • Raz Kids – Lucy’s younger sister who is in Kindergarten is in a gifted cluster classroom and the school purchased Raz Kids for reading. It’s been a HUGE hit for a reluctant (yet fluent) reader in Kindergarten. Kids work at their own pace and earn stars, take quizzes, and earn ranking. Lucy’s sister is trying to “outdo” her classmates in reading – so it’s great for the natural competitive drive that many gifted kids have!
  • – Create your own spelling lists, or choose easier, harder, and hardest games with varying word lengths to challenge all spellers.