Skip to main content


Resourceful Reading Teachers 1: Four Resources Model of Reading in Action 1

May 10, 2016 by Nóra Wünsch-Nagy

In the first part of our series focusing on different approaches to and models of reading we revised the Four Resources model of reading (Luke and Freebody 1999). To show you how this model can work in action, this week we look at practical ways of approaching texts through the four models. These models can be applied at a very early stage of learning, and we would like demonstrate this by approaching a low level Helbling Young Reader, the classic tale, The Hare and the Tortoise through the four models.

This is a 'level a' reader for very young learners of a classic tale, retold by Richard Northcott and illustrated by Estella Guerrera.

Keep in mind that the four reading models are not hierarchical and do not follow each other in a linear order based on reading development. The more we read and study a text, the more we might rely on and modify the different meanings created through the different reading models as they influence each other. You also need to understand your students and their needs to be able to offer the best paths across the texts.

Helbling Young Readers Classics The Hare and the Tortoise

Reading The Hare and the Tortoise

From text participant to code breaker

Drawing on prior knowledge can be an easy way into the text as young learners might have already heard about this story in their first language. Start by drawing on prior knowledge of the story and previous experiences  of similar texts your students have. As 'text participants' you can expect answers to these questions in the readers' first language:

  • Have you heard about the story of the hare and the tortoise?
  • What do you know about tortoises?
  • What do you know about hares?
  • Have you ever been in a race?
  • Who will win the race between the tortoise and the hare?

You can do all the work to set the context and activate background knowledge through the images.

When you are reading the text as a 'code breaker':

  • study the images in the picture dictionary flaps of the book;
  • use the flashcards to introduce the vocabulary of the story:
  • mime the activities and make animal sounds of the scenes;
  • practise the pronunciation of the words using the multimedia CD-ROM;
  • do the language activities built around the story;
  • point out the images which the text refers to in each scene.
The Hare and the Tortoise pp. 12-13
Illustration by Estella Guerrera from The Hare and the Tortoise. © Helbling Languages

From code breaker to text analysts and users

This step does not need to be too detailed and can rely on only certain implicit observations. At low levels (such as the example shown) discussions can happen in readers' first language.

As 'text analysts',  answer these questions:

  • Have you ever felt like the hare or the tortoise in a race?
  • How do you think the hare feels?
  • What do the other animals think of the hare and the tortoise?
  • Can you find the little mouse in each scene?
  • Why is the mouse there? (It is like a viewer/narrator, but not a 'real' character in the story.)

As 'text users', think about these questions:

  • Find the language activity bubbles (marked with an ant sign) in each scene. (These questions are not part of the story and they serve a different purpose.
  • Retell the story using only the images, showing students that they can also create texts based on the visual images.

The four models work independently but they are also connected to each other, you can decide which models you would like to focus on during the shared reading of the story.

The Hare and the Tortoise illustration
Illustration by Estella Guerrera from The Hare and the Tortoise. © Helbling Languages

Share your own questions and tasks with us in the comments below. 

Download our guide to using flashcards:

Do come back next week for more as we will move on to higher levels by reading an original text, The Time Capsule for elementary and pre-intermediate level learners, a popular classic novel, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens to see how the model works with intermediate level readers.