The Essentials Reader is a great addition to the core Essentials program for anyone who would like to add in literature and comprehension skills. However, we highly recommend the reader if a student is struggling with reading. This optional reading comprehension supplement provides engaging, phonics-controlled reading passages for every Essentials unit that are designed to build the confidence and meet the interests and intellectual level of older students.
Since struggling readers are often discouraged and frustrated with reading, we recommend allowing these students to study literature through audio books, reading aloud, discussion, and the Essentials Reader for a time. Do not require them to read other books until they gain the confidence and decoding skills to want to read other grade-level texts and to be able to do so successfully. (This happens at different points for different students, but we find that most struggling readers begin to take off in reading and pick up other books voluntarily somewhere between Units 20 and 30 of Essentials.)
The Essentials Reader is also appropriate for main classroom instruction for students in 3rd or 4th grade. It includes a variety of engaging fiction and nonfictional texts, and the Essentials Reader Teacher's Guide and Student Activity Book provide a wealth of comprehension, composition, and handwriting activities to go with them.