Great Minds®: Tips for Developing Confident Young Readers

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A 2019 National Charter Schools Conference sponsor post.

Confidence: a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers.

Think about the last time you approached a task with confidence. It’s likely you prepared and practiced for the job. Young readers need that same type of preparation and practice to build confidence in their ability to read, drawing meaning from print.   

What does a reader need to know and be able to do to read this sentence: The tiny mouse scurried up to the big lion.

The reader needs to be able to “decode,” or translate, the symbols on the page. But that is not enough. Recalling academic vocabulary, interpreting word meanings, visualizing relative size (tiny versus big), and understanding inflectional endings all contribute to the reader’s ability to process and make sense of the sentence.

What are the implications of these needs for reading instruction in the early grades? To build confident, proficient readers, teachers must systematically help their students develop competencies based on both skills and knowledge.

To provide teachers and students with materials that attend to those needs, Great Minds® developed Geodes®, a brand new collection of books for young readers. These groundbreaking volumes are designed to be accessible by reinforcing learned phonics patterns, all while engaging students in learning valuable information and vocabulary.

Levels 1 and 2 of Geodes contain 64 books each, grouped into topic-based modules. For example, in Creature Features, students learn about intriguing animal traits and behaviors. In Cinderella Stories, students travel the globe, and, in Good Eating, they explore where food comes from and how it fuels our bodies and communities. The informational and literary texts within these modules bring science, history, and the arts to life.

How do students feel about Geodes? Upon making a connection between two books, one student exclaimed, “I can’t believe I even know this!” Students are building vocabulary and feeling confident in their ability to read and learn from the Geodes on topics that pique their curiosity and help them develop a rich knowledge of the world.


Catherine Schmidt supports districts, states, and partners in implementing college- and career-readiness standards in ELA and literacy in the elementary grades. She also serves as a title editor and author on the Great Minds® Geodes team and is grateful to be a teacher on special assignment.

Great Minds® was a sponsor of the 2019 National Charter Schools Conference.