Evaluating textbooks for primary grade reading instruction

A usable heuristic for L1 education


  • Jesper Bremholm




balanced reading, primary grades, reading instruction, textbook evaluation, textbooks


Across a large number of countries, reading textbooks is widely used in primary grade reading instruction. In Denmark, a quantitative study has shown that one single reading textbook (The first reading) strongly dominates the primary grades classrooms. The first reading presents itself as a learning material that covers all aspects of reading instruction, and that is based on recent research on primary grade reading. This article presents a set of criteria for the analysis and evaluation of textbooks for primary grades reading instruction, based on an overview of recent research studies on reading instruction showing that a balanced approach is the most successful (i.e. a combination of technical and meaning-oriented elements). The criteria are exemplified by analysing The first reading with the purpose of answering the question of whether it is actually research based as claimed. The analysis shows that the technical elements are systematically supported by The first reading, whereas the meaning-oriented elements are either left out or treated in an overridingly drill-based manner. In conclusion, it is argued that the set of evaluative criteria might constitute a helpful professional tool for teachers in relation to the challenging task of using textbooks as part of a balanced reading instruction.




How to Cite

Bremholm, J. (2020). Evaluating textbooks for primary grade reading instruction: A usable heuristic for L1 education. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 20(2), 1–21. https://doi.org/10.17239/L1ESLL-2020.20.02.01