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How to Prevent Reading Difficulties, Grades PreK-3

How to Prevent Reading Difficulties, Grades PreK-3
Proactive Practices for Teaching Young Children to Read

April 2021 | 272 pages | Corwin

The science of reading meets the art of teaching readers
Do you have the knowledge and instructional ability to effectively teach foundational skills and to support students who show signs of reading difficulties? It is a tall order — and one that challenges many new and veteran teachers. How to Prevent Reading Difficulties, Grades PreK-3 builds on decades of evidence and years of experience to help teachers understand how the brain learns to read and how to apply that understanding to Tier 1 instruction. The book includes: 

  • step-by-step descriptions of techniques for effectively teaching phonological awareness, spelling, phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension
  • specific Tier 1 activities, routines, and frameworks that build and strengthen word recognition and language comprehension
  • links to video demonstrations and online resources
  • clear, practical explanations of the science of reading, including the Eternal Triangle and the Simple View of Reading, to help teachers understand the fundamentals of the reading process, recognize how difficulties arise – and understand how to address them
  • A book study guide is available on the Free Resources tab to provides group guidance on how to effectively teach foundational skills and to support students who show signs of reading difficulties.

    Author Mark Weakland brings new energy to teaching high-priority foundational skills. By blending the science of reading with the best instructional practices that lead to authentic reading—the ultimate goal of balanced literacy—teachers can prevent many reading difficulties in K-3 learners. Learn more about Mark Weakland at

Chapter 1: The Reading Brain
Chapter 2: What Are Reading Difficulties?
Chapter 3: Highly Effective Teaching Techniques
Chapter 4: Building Language Comprehension
Chapter 5: Building Phonological Skills
Chapter 6: Building Orthographic Skills
Chapter 7: Reading: Guided, Repeated, Independent

“This book is so much more than a “few great strategies to try on.” Rather, it explains  the science of how our reading brains work, so that we acknowledge all that the brain does when making sense of text. How to Prevent Reading Difficulties can benefit both new and seasoned practitioners in two ways: First, these powerful strategies detail specific yet practical activities, routines, and techniques that teachers can use to teach all children the basics of reading, and second, because these practices focus on establishing a strong foundation, they also help teachers to prevent reading difficulties through strong Tier 1 instruction.”

Hilda Martinez
NBCT, RTI Coordinator, 2020 San Diego County Teacher of the Year

“Master teacher Mark Weakland serves up a smorgasbord of evidence-based best teaching practices in How to Prevent Reading Difficulties, Grades PreK–3, presented with the science of reading in ways you will understand. This smart and fun-to-read teaching guide gives you the bread, butter, cheese, meat and potato routines for ensuring that virtually all students learn to read, write, and spell.”

J. Richard Gentry
Researcher, Author, and Educational Consultant; Co-author of BRAIN WORDS: HOW THE SCIENCE OF READING INFORMS TEACHING

“I will be suggesting this title to all of my preservice and early career teachers who are searching for a comprehensive guide to the science of reading and an understanding of how the reading brain works. Not only does Mark Weakland provide a thorough explanation of literacy development and skills, he also helps us understand reading difficulties, how to support students who struggle, and the related research basis. With practical suggestions and engaging vignettes, Mark Weakland helps inform teachers on best practices to support all students.”

Molly Ness
Associate Professor at Fordham University and Author of EVERY MINUTE MATTERS

“From brain research to building better readers, Mark Weakland’s How to Prevent Reading Difficulties, Grades PreK–3—Proactive Practices for Teaching Young Children to Read provides a very readable and actionable approach to overcoming reading difficulties in young children. This is definitely a book worth reading and having on hand as a guide for developing reading instruction that works.”

Timothy Rasinski
rofessor of Literacy Education, Kent State University, Rebecca Tolle and Burton W. Gorman Chair in Educational Leadership

“In How to Prevent Reading Difficulties, Grades PreK–3, Mark Weakland begins by taking you on a tour of the inner workings of the reading brain. With this landscape as your backdrop, he showcases five highly effective teaching techniques to weave into your repertoire. The chapters that follow offer a helpful collection of proactive practices and activities that will boost readers’ understanding of the dynamic interplay among meaning, sounds, and spelling.”

Maria Walther
Traveling Teacher, Literacy Consultant, and Author of THE RAMPED-UP READ ALOUD

“In How to Prevent Reading Difficulties, Grades PreK–3: Proactive Practices for Teaching Young Children to Read, Mark Weakland offers a wealth of practical instructional activities and routines to maximize student learning in phonological awareness, phonics, spelling, vocabulary, comprehension, and more. This resource is grounded in the latest research drawn from multiple sciences examining how children learn to read. It’s a valuable addition to any teacher’s bookshelf.”

Wiley Blevins

“I am so excited and grateful for Mark Weakland’s latest work. How to Prevent Reading Difficulties, Grades PreK–3 is a must-read filled with “must dos” for new and experienced elementary educators, coaches, and interventionists. As educators, we often learn the mechanics of how to work with students who are reading at or above grade level, and then later struggle to find the resources and materials needed to support students with greater needs. Mark Weakland does an amazing job bringing us from the mechanics of brain functioning all the way to practical implementation.”

Melissa Black
District of Columbia Public Schools

Excellent resource; I totally recommend this valuable book for my dyslexia specialist teaching students!

Dr Georgia Niolaki
School of Education, Bath Spa University
March 17, 2022

Sample Materials & Chapters


Mark Weakland

Mark Weakland is a consultant, teacher, writer, and musician living in western Pennsylvania. He is the creator of teacher resource books, nationally-presented seminars and workshops on literacy topics, award-winning music projects, and more than 70 books for children. Visit his website ( and YouTube channel (Mark Weakland Literacy); follow him on Twitter @MarkWeakland. More About Author

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ISBN: 9781071823439