What happens during a Reading Recovery lesson

Each lessons consists of:

  • re-reading familiar stories,
  • reading a story that was read for the first time the day before,
  • working with letters and words using magnetic letters,
  • writing a story,
  • assembling a cut-up story,
  • and reading a new book.

Five Components

The teacher teaches, demonstrates problem-solving strategies, and provides just enough support to help the child develop effective reading and writing strategies and work as independently as possible.

Each Reading Recovery lesson incorporates the five components identified by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act as essential in a comprehensive instructional program in reading. The five components are:

  • phonemic awareness,
  • phonics instruction,
  • fluency instruction,
  • vocabulary instruction,
  • and text comprehension instruction.

Accelerated learning is possible because Reading Recovery teachers base their instruction on carefully documented daily observations of what each child already knows about reading and writing. This is an efficient approach that allows all future instruction to work from the child's strengths.


There are two possible outcomes after a full series of Reading Recovery lessons, both positive:

  1. The child makes accelerated progress and continues to progress thereafter with classroom instruction. (Nationally about 75% of children successfully complete lessons.)
  2. Additional evaluation is recommended and further action is initiated to help the child continue making progress. This is a positive outcome, because Reading Recovery's diagnostic teaching helps identify children who need more help and provides a documented record of the child's knowledge and strength as a base for future learning.

A key premise of Reading Recovery is that early intervention in first grade is critical. Research shows that children who fall behind in Grade 1 tend to remain below grade level in later years.

Early intervention is important because the gap between the lowest- and highest- performing children is narrow in lower grades but widens later in elementary school.

Although all children progress through their Reading Recovery lessons, a few do not make the accelerated progress needed to succeed without extra help. These children may be recommended for additional intervention.

Reading Recovery has been reconstructed in Spanish as Descubriendo la Lectura. It has also been reconstructed in French.