Mystery Readers with Lauren from Teacher Mom of Three

I am {hopefully} enjoying my last day at the beach, so here is my good friend Laruen from Teacher Mom of Three!

Hello!  I am so very glad to be guest blogging today for my good friend Andrea!  I am Lauren from~

Like Andrea, I am a reading specialist and have had experience working in middle and elementary schools.  However, this past school year I resigned from my position to stay home to take care of my family.  Even so, I am still immersed in literacy instruction as I tutor and am constantly reading and learning how to be a better literacy teacher.

Today, I want to share something with you that my son's kindergarten teacher implemented this past school year, a Mystery Reader activity.  With the room mom coordinating this weekly event, there was very little work that the classroom teacher had to do.  Now, I have never hosted such an event in my classroom, but I was so impressed with this series that it got me thinking:  if I were to use this in my classroom, how would I go about organizing it?  Let me preface my plan with this:  I was one of the mystery readers and the excitement of the students was incredible!  Each week, my son would ask me if it was Thursday yet because he knew that was Mystery Reader Day! The kids loved, loved this activity!

What is a Mystery Reader Program?
A read-aloud activity where guest readers visit the classroom to share a favorite book.  The identity of the reader is kept a secret until the reader enters the classroom on the scheduled day. The reader can bring along props, a simple craft, or a snack that is related to the book.  Or, the guest reader can simply visit the classroom and read aloud.

Why Implement a Mystery Reader Program?
Because it is FUN for the kids, the classroom teacher, and the guest reader.  We all know the benefits of reading aloud to our students.  Changing things up a bit and inviting guest readers into the classroom adds variety, exposes students to other readers whose style will obviously be different than the classroom teacher, builds excitement for reading, as the kids do not know who the reader will be, and models for students that adults other than teachers read!

How Does It Work?
I am a firm believer in the K.I.S.S. principle:  Keep It Super Simple.  Here's how it worked in my son's classroom.  The room mom coordinated the program for the entire year.  She used Sign Up Genius to schedule guest readers for the school  year.  The classroom teacher dedicated each Thursday afternoon from 2:30-3:00 as Mystery Reader Day. An email was sent to all parents with a link to the Sign Up Genius site.  Parents could volunteer themselves or schedule a grandparent, family friend, older sibling, neighbor, etc. The benefit of using Sign Up Genius is that it is paperless, it is easy to see who has volunteered, it is FREE, and the volunteer receives an automatic email reminder about the day they are scheduled to be a mystery reader.  The only disadvantage of using this website to schedule your readers is that not all parents will have Internet access.

 No worries, for you can post a sign up sheet outside your classroom and/or send home a paper copy.  I would also add, that I would send an email to the school faculty and staff  inviting them to volunteer as well.  This would include inviting other teachers, the administration, secretaries, the guidance counselor, custodians, and even older students!  Click here for a FREE, editable letter you can send home to parents, post outside your classroom, or place in faculty/staff mailboxes.
** Graphics used in the letter:  My Cute Graphics, Kathy Law, Kevin and Amanda, A Cupcake for the Teacher

The only thing left for you or your room parent to do is to schedule the guest readers and to make sure that readers share a new book, so you do not have any repeats.

A few days before the mystery reader arrives, have students practice their inferencing skills by trying to guess the identity of the reader using the clues they provided.  Click the picture below to download an inferencing handout (I like to project the document onto my interactive white board) I created and a poster you can display on Mystery Reader Day.

  Afterwards, you could have students write a thank you letter to the mystery reader and discuss whether students' predictions were correct.

The sky is the limit with this fun activity that promotes reading for fun and provides good role models for kids!


Thanks, Lauren for such a wonderful idea!  I know that kids will love it when guest readers come in!
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  1. I used to do this before pacing charts and time constraints got in the way. I often think about how I could squeeze it back in. I think the greatest surprise was when a home-schooled sister came to read. The kids loved it! :)

    1. Hi Amy- The surprise element and the anticipation is the best! My son was totally shocked when I showed up as the mystery reader last April! I agree that if you have a strict sequence/pacing chart that it would be difficult to do. :-) Lauren

  2. What a fun idea! I want to try this!

    1. As a parent, I saw how excited my kindergarten son was about mystery reader day! I hope you get a chance to try it this school year! :-) Lauren

  3. I really love this idea and had totally planned on using it last year but never got to it-sadly. I am definitely going to recommend it to my principal and the primary teachers in my school. I will be teaching 4th grade in the fall and I'm just not sure if I will have the time, boo :(

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits

    1. H Nicole- There just isn't enough time in the day for all we want to do! It would be cool if some of your 4th graders could be mystery readers for the primary grades! :-) Lauren

  4. This is really great. Thank you for sharing. When I downloaded the letter it was a PDF. Any chance you have an editable version?


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