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About the Book

Early Intervention for Reading Difficulties: The Interactive Strategies Approach (Scanlon, Anderson & Sweeney, 2010/2017)

This book presents a research-supported framework for early literacy instruction that aligns with multi-tiered response-to-intervention (RTI) models. The book focuses on giving teachers a better understanding of literacy development and how to effectively support children as they begin to read and write. The authors’ interactive strategies approach is designed around essential instructional goals related both to learning to identify words and to comprehending text. Detailed guidance is provided on ways to target these goals with K-2 students. Assessment and instructional strategies for whole-class, small-group, and one-to-one settings are discussed in depth. Purchasers of the book gain access to the publisher’s website for the book. This provides access to numerous reproducible forms for use in documenting student learning as well as materials for use in instruction (e.g., picture sorts, strategy charts, key word chart).

second edition book cover

Editorial Reviews for the Second Edition

"A lot of people talk about research-based practice, but Scanlon and colleagues deliver. They draw on their own and others’ research to show how we can greatly reduce the prevalence of reading difficulties. The book addresses many facets of literacy development—from phonological awareness to reading comprehension--and shows how to organize instruction to respond to each child’s needs. I am thrilled that the authors have developed a second edition of this book! I used the first edition in my preservice literacy methods course and as a trusted resource in my work with practicing teachers, and the second edition provides even more guidance. If you are an early literacy teacher educator, coach, or specialist, I strongly urge you to put this book on your reading list. You won’t be disappointed."
—Nell K. Duke, EdD, School of Education, University of Michigan 

"If you really want to know how to teach young children to read, this is a good place to start. In their second edition, the authors have perfected the ISA, based on hundreds of hours of work with beginning readers. What is truly remarkable is the degree of detail about every aspect of the beginning reading lesson, from phonological awareness to fluency. I would use this book as a primary text in an elementary methods course or in a graduate reading specialist or special education course."
—Heidi Anne E. Mesmer, PhD, School of Education, Virginia Tech

"What a fantastic resource for anyone who teaches reading in the primary grades! What sets the second edition apart for me is that every section now includes an excellent discussion of possible challenges for English learners (ELs), along with recommendations for instructional modifications, making it a great resource for EL educators as well as reading teachers."
—Karen L. Ford, PhD, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

"A valuable resource for all early elementary teachers, whether they want to improve their implementation of reading interventions or build knowledge about effective reading instruction more generally. Detailed descriptions of research-based practices, along with many practical tools, make intervention planning and implementation more feasible."
—Jeanne Wanzek, PhD, Department of Special Education, Vanderbilt University

"I used the first edition of this text in professional development courses with practicing teachers, reading specialists, and administrators, and I’m delighted to see the second edition. The ISA is responsive to students and it empowers teachers as professional decision makers. This is a refreshing approach in contrast to prepackaged intervention materials or scripted reading programs. The content in this text is firmly based on sound research and is presented in an approachable manner."
—Seth A. Parsons, PhD, College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University 

first edition book cover

Editorial Reviews for the First Edition

"With the wide array of programs available for teaching phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension, teachers wonder, ‘What is the best way to guide development in these essential components of literacy?’ Scanlon et al. present a research-tested, balanced method for designing effective literacy instruction in primary classrooms. Writing in a strong voice that reflects their extensive experience, the authors concisely outline relevant concepts, include numerous classroom vignettes that bring the information to life, and provide valuable reproducible lists, charts, checklists, and other materials. As a core text in any Foundations of Reading or Emergent Literacy course, this book provides teacher candidates with clearly explained, research-tested methodologies for guiding children’s literacy achievement."
—Mary Shea, PhD, Professor/Director of Graduate Literacy Programs, Graduate Education and Leadership Department, Canisius College 

"This is the most comprehensive, systematic, and teacher-friendly guide to reading instruction that I have seen in my 37 years as an elementary educator. It is a ‘must read’ for teachers and administrators in school districts working to implement RTI and a wonderful resource for all elementary-level teachers striving to develop competent, self-extending readers."
—Mary S. Ziara, Title I teacher, East Lansing (Michigan) Public Schools 

"The authors have succeeded in inspiring this seasoned teacher to thoughtfully reflect on so many points. Do I understand all I need to know about early reading? Do I constantly consider my learners as individuals with a diversity of skills? Do I meet all readers where they are ready to learn? This is a book you will find yourself revisiting over and over again, whether you are a preservice teacher or a seasoned veteran. We owe it to our students to be the best informed professionals we can be—this book will continue us on that path."
—Peggy Connors, MA, reading teacher, Abram Lansing Elementary School, Cohoes, New York 

"The interactive strategies approach is an important new tool for an RTI toolbox. The authors provide a sophisticated approach to help children ‘puzzle through’ words. Teachers, coaches, and principals will consult this book to learn how to scaffold children and group them to tailor instruction. This book has extensive research support and provides activities that incorporate a continuum of whole-group, small-group, and one-to-one techniques."
—Stephanie Al Otaiba, PhD, Florida State University College of Education and Florida Center for Reading Research, Tallahassee, Florida 

"The authors’ pragmatic approach equips the classroom teacher with the keys to successful intervention for all learners. Unlike many books that use the term ‘strategic reading’ yet leave the teacher guessing as to its implementation, this volume provides a road map for scaffolding and supporting reading using code- or meaning-based strategies. It should be required reading in every literacy specialist/coach graduate program. I used a prepublication version of this text in a graduate literacy course; students commented that they had never been exposed to many of the concepts presented. Inservice teachers were especially delighted by the text and ran to their classrooms to implement the approach."
—Catherine M. O’Callaghan, PhD, Department of Education, Iona College 

"What a wonderful book! The authors’ approach highlights the importance of teachers’ skills and knowledge for developing children’s literacy. Throughout, teachers are supported in making informed decisions that result in exemplary instruction for all students. Each critical area of literacy is well described with effective practices that build from simple to complex, including activities that teachers can immediately bring to their classrooms. I especially appreciated the chapter on motivation. This book is a strong selection for teacher book clubs. I just finished teaching a literacy coaching course, and this would have been a perfect text."
—Diane M. Barone, EdD, Foundation Professor of Literacy Studies, University of Nevada, Reno

About the Authors

Donna M. Scanlon, PhD, is Professor in the Department of Literacy Teaching and Learning at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Dr. Scanlon has spent most of her career studying children’s reading difficulties. Her studies have focused on the relationships between instructional characteristics and success in learning to read and on developing and evaluating approaches to preventing and remediating reading difficulties. Findings from studies that she and her colleagues conducted contributed to the emergence of response to intervention as a process for preventing reading difficulties and avoiding inappropriate and inaccurate learning disability classifications. Most recently, Dr. Scanlon’s work has focused on the development of teacher knowledge and teaching skill among both preservice and in-service teachers for the purpose of helping teachers to prevent reading difficulties in young children and remediate reading difficulties among older children.

Kimberly L. Anderson, PhD, is Assistant Professor at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, where she teaches K-2 literacy methods courses in the Department of Literacy Studies, English Education, and History Education. Her current research focuses on improving small-group, supported literacy instruction in the kindergarten classroom and the relationships between teacher knowledge, teacher practice, and student outcomes with regard to the foundations of reading development. Dr. Anderson worked for several years as a research associate at the Child Research and Study Center, University at Albany, and has contributed to the research on the Interactive Strategies Approach (ISA) by serving as an intervention teacher in an early study; by providing professional development for teachers learning to implement the ISA in the early primary grades in both classroom and intervention settings; and by collaborating with preservice educators from institutions across New York State on enhancing preservice teacher knowledge related to early literacy development and instruction.

Joan M. Sweeney, MSEd, is a Reading/Literacy Specialist in the North Colonie Central School District in Latham, New York. Previously, she was a research associate in the Child Research and Study Center, University at Albany, where she provided intervention for struggling readers, supervised intervention teachers, and coached classroom teachers utilizing the ISA to support children’s literacy development.