Upper Emergent Readers

Upper Emergent Readers are beginning to build knowledge of the characteristics of different genres of texts. They can read stretches of both simple and split dialogue. They quickly and automatically recognize a large number of high-frequency words and use letter-sound information to take apart simple, regular words, as well as some multisyllable words while reading. They recognize and use inflectional endings, plurals, contractions, and possessives. They can also process and understand syntax. In fiction, Upper Emergent Readers are beginning to meet characters who are more developed. In informational texts, they are reading to learn new facts.

Upper Emergent Readers are still reading text with three to eight lines of print per page, but the print size is slightly smaller and there are more words on a page. With early reading behaviors completely under control, they are able to understand more complex story lines and ideas. Readers at this level can use a range of word-solving strategies. They read text with some content-specific words, but most texts have a minimum of challenging vocabulary words. In their oral reading, upper emergent readers demonstrate appropriate rate, phrasing, intonation, and word stress.

Stories for Upper Emergent Readers are longer and more literary, with less repetition in the text structure. Readers are able to process dialogue and reflect it through appropriate word stress and phrasing. Plots and characters are more elaborate. Because they now easily recognize a large number of high-frequency words, readers are able to engage in more in-depth thinking and  solve words with complex spelling patterns.

Upper Emergent readers recognize that reading has a variety of purposes and reading different kinds of books is enjoyable for distinct reasons. They should be reading both fiction and nonfiction/informational books. Reading informational books provides a different type of literacy benefit to early readers. Reading nonfiction helps young students develop background knowledge, which increases their comprehension ability by enabling them to make sense of new ideas. Additionally, informational texts have the potential to motivate students to read more by tapping into their personal interests. Encouraging students to explore a broad array of informational texts can help them see that the real world is as interesting and amazing as any fictional one. MaryRuth Books offers many fiction and nonfiction/informational leveled readers, suggested and used by Reading Recovery® and Guided Reading educators, when teaching Upper Emergent readers.

Characteristics of Texts for Upper Emergent Readers

  • Assigned Guided Reading Levels F-H
  • Some texts have sequential information
  • Familiar content that expands beyond home, neighborhood, and school
  • Some longer stretches of dialogue
  • Some sentences  longer than ten words, containing prepositional phrases, adjectives, and dialogue
  • Variations in placement of subject, verb, adjectives, and adverbs
  • Text includes many words with inflectional endings
  • Contains periods, commas, quotation marks, exclamation points, question marks, and ellipses
  • Some longer texts with repeating and more complex patterns
  • Some unusual formats, such as questions followed by answers or letters
  • Sentences with clauses and embedded phrases
  • Some complex letter‐sound relationships in words
  • Some content‐specific words introduced, explained and illustrated in the text
  • Complex illustrations that depict multiple ideas
  • Slightly smaller print
  • Narratives with more episodes and less repetition
  • Multiple episodes taking place across time
  • Some stretches of descriptive language
  • Wide variety in words used to assign dialogue to speaker
  • Some complex letter‐sound relationships in words
  • Some complex spelling patterns
  • Some easy compound words
  • Italics indicating unspoken thought

MaryRuth Books offers a carefully crafted selection of texts for aspiring readers. Shop our Upper Emergent Reading Set online now! Titles in this collection include Entomologist Danny, The Drone, and Tortoises at the Zoo. Contact MaryRuth Books for more information!


Fountas, Irene C. and Pinnell, Gay Su. Guided Reading- Good First Teaching for All Children. Heinemann, 1996.