Guided reading – Working within a child's zone of proximal development

Maria Nicholas, Nikolai Veresov, John Cripps Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Research has shown that exposing children to rich literacy practices gives children a strong start that will influence lifelong success in learning, wellbeing and participation in civic life. Yet there is a lack of theoretical rigor in the vociferous debate about how best to teach reading. In this paper we address this issue as we explore how teachers can reconceptualize the practice of guided reading by drawing on the principles of development of Vygotsky's cultural-historical theory. We discuss how literacy and reading are described in Australian policy documents, and how the practice of guided reading is described in literature. We use Vygotsky's theoretical concepts, in particular the Zone of Proximal Development, to suggest how teachers can reimagine guided reading, and use this metacognitive framework when evaluating teacher practice. Data drawn from a questionnaire, completed by 30 Australian teachers, was analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis to advance this discussion. In so doing, we highlight the need for teachers to move beyond a conceptualization of guided reading as ‘a social situation’ in-and-of-itself, cautioning that not every social situation will necessarily lead to child development. Rather, we underscore the necessity that teachers understand guided reading to function as ‘a social situation of development’.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100530
Number of pages11
JournalLearning, Culture and Social Interaction
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • Child development
  • Guided reading
  • Reading
  • Teaching
  • Vygotsky
  • Zone of proximal development

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