Sharp ReadingI recently received an email from Hilton Ayrey, a reading consultant at SharpReading. In it he described what he thought constitutes a ‘good story’ for a guided reading lesson? I couldn’t agree more, so thought I’d share it, so that other teachers may explore the resources that SharpReading have available. My class use weekly the StoryBytes resource, produced by SharpReading.

Here’s what Hilton thinks.
1. Short – maximum of around 600 words
In a guided reading lesson you want closure – you want it to be an event. So something that can be processed in its entirety in 20-25 minutes is ideal.
2. Tightly written
Because there will be some discussion, some unpacking of the text, the story needs to move quickly through the action with high density sentences that are meaningful to the storyline – no fluff.
3. Provide evidence of some character development
Not easy to do in just 600 words but this is an important ingredient of a high interest text.
4. A storyline that hooks the reader
The problem – response – action – outcome all need to be evident and well crafted to keep the reader interested.
5. A satisfying ending
The reader needs to feel that they have not wasted their time reading the story – they want to come back for more.
Bart & Orville by Hilton Ayrey  from StoryBytes Reading age 7-8 yrs
Orville was Bart’s cat. From the very first day it was obvious that Orville was different from ordinary cats. When Bart came home from school, Orville would be waiting in the tree overhanging the drive. He would pounce on him and they would fall on the ground play fighting. When Bart settled into his bean bag to watch TV, Orville always sat on his head, purring loudly. This made them both happy.
Orville was also a very curious cat. Many times he had to be rescued from the trouble he got himself into. He wasn’t afraid of anything and never seemed to think about what might happen to him. One day Bart’s mum got out of the car at the supermarket and found Orville clinging to the roof. Another time he was sleeping in the dryer and someone loaded it up and turned it on. He seemed to like that.
When Orville was unfortunately run over by a car, Bart decided he had to do something to remember him by. A few days after his death, Bart went to work on Orville. Many people would have thought that getting your cat stuffed and turning it into a remote controlled helicopter was a terrible thing to do. But Bart was sure that Orville would have thought it was a great idea.
Once he got started everything happened quickly. Bart had Orville stuffed with his legs spread out wide. He then fixed him onto a small frame. Next he attached propellers onto each of Orville’s paws. After lots of testing, the day came when Orville lifted off. With Bart at the controls, Orville rose up into the sky. Orville the cat would always be remembered.

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