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8 Mar 2007

A Comparison of First-Graders’ Reading with Little Books or Literature-Based Basal Anthologies

Shailaja Menon, University of Colorado, Boulder
Elfrieda H. Hiebert, University of California, Berkeley

Journal Article

Menon, S., & Hiebert, E.H. (2005). A comparison of first-graders’ reading with little books or literature-based basal anthologies. Reading Research Quarterly, 40, 12-38.


This study examined the effectiveness of a little book curriculum in facilitating the independent reading skills of first-grade readers. The curriculum was based on a theoretical model that identified two critical dimensions of text-based support for beginning readers: linguistic content and cognitive load.

The 15-week little book intervention was conducted in four first-grade classrooms of an inner-city school that was part of a large-city school district. Two of the classes were assigned to the intervention group and the other two classes were assigned to the comparison group. Children in the intervention group read from little books leveled according to features of linguistic content and cognitive load. Children in the comparison group read from basal literature texts. Word lists and graded passages from the Qualitative Reading Inventory (QRI) served as the pre- and post-test measures. ANCOVA and chi-square analyses revealed that children in the intervention classrooms performed at significantly higher levels on the post-tests than their counterparts in the comparison classrooms. These results applied equally to the word-lists and the passage reading tasks. The intervention was effective with children at all reading levels—high, average and low.