Audio-Assisted Reading

Audio-assisted reading is an individual or group reading activity where students read along in their books as they hear a fluent reader read the book on an audio recording (audiotape, audio book, or iPod). As confidence and reading skills develop, students read the same passage or text without the assistance of the audio recording.

When to use: Before reading During reading After reading
How to use: Individually With small groups Whole class setting

Why use audio-assisted reading?

  • It helps to build fluency skills including proper phrasing and expression.
  • It helps students improve sight word recognition.
  • It helps build comprehension.
  • It allows students to hear the tone and pace of a skillful reader.
  • It's a flexible strategy that can be used across content areas.

How to use audio-assisted reading

  1. Choose a reading passage and audio recording of the reading that is slightly above students' independent reading levels.
  2. Ask students to listen to the audio while following along on the paper copy of the passage.
  3. Have students read out loud along out loud with the audio recording.
  4. Ask students to read the passage without the audio.
  5. Have students read and re-read along with the audio until they feel comfortable reading the text unassisted.


  • Observe students as they are listening and reading to ensure that they're able to follow along accurately.
  • Most researchers recommend that teachers (or other models of fluent reading) create the audiotapes or recordings. The recording should not include distractions such as sound effects or music.
  • Digital recording devices such as iPads and iPods are easy-to-use tools for audio recordings.
  • If limited recording devices are available, rotate students through using a timer or as one of your stations during center time.

Collect resources

Language Arts

Storynory gives teachers and parents links to songs, poems, nursery rhymes, myths, and other stories to listen to online or to download.

Visit LibriVox to download MP3 audio versions of chapters from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Children's Books Online contains several audio books teachers can download for this fluency activity.

Looking for more children's audio books? See our article, Listen and Learn with Audio Books.

Differentiated instruction

for second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and for younger learners

  • Students needing more support can be asked to listen to the tape and read along with it, reading just a little slower so that they are "echoing" the taped reading.
  • Students who are more skilled readers can try to stay one or two syllables ahead so that the tape is an "echo".
  • Teachers may wish to have students use the computer to listen to online-audio readings or MP3 readings for this activity.

See the research that supports this strategy

Armbruster,B., Lehr, F., & Osborn, J. (2001). Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read. Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA).

Koskinen, P. S., Blum, I. H., Bisson, S. A., Phillips, S. M., Creamer, T. S., & Baker, T. K. (1999). Shared reading, books, and audiotapes: Supporting diverse students in school and at home. The Reading Teacher, 52, 430-444.

Texas Reading Initiative. (2007). Fluency: Instructional Guidelines and Student Activities.

Children's books to use with this strategy

Magic Tree House: Books 1-4

Magic Tree House: Books 1-4

By: Mary Pope Osborne
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

While probably best enjoyed as audio books, these unabridged readings are ideal for both boys and girls. The books combine a bit of information and an easy fantasy for satisfying stories.

Owl Babies

Owl Babies

By: Martin Waddell
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

When they find their mother gone from the nest, three owlets worry that their mother won't return, but of course she does. Stunning illustrations combine with repeating text for a reassuring story.

Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham

By: Dr. Seuss
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Sam-I-Am tirelessly tries to convince the other guy that he'll just adore green eggs and ham. Resistance is futile. However, to the nameless fellow's delight, he discovers that he indeed likes the delicacy and will eat them everywhere! Readers — new and experienced — appreciate the silliness and verve of this rhyming adventure.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

By: Michael Rosen
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A father and his children go over, under, and through while on an exciting bear hunt in this retelling of a traditional chant. Illustrations alternate between black and white and color, enhancing the engaging repetition and the exciting chase — all the way home!


I read out loud to myself. I tape-record my reading of an assigned reading material, and I play it back and listen while following along with eyes through each word, sentence and ultimately the entire length of the assignment. I find that I grasp the key points faster and I can explain it better when required to do so.

Our library has been using Playaways for years. Most of the kids love them, but the struggling readers REALLY love them. The great thing about them is that there are thousands of titles to choose from.

Scobre Press offers their books on MP3 players that contain audio for high and low levels for each book. I use these in my classroom and they work great!

Tumblebooks is a library of online storybooks that read aloud and highlight text for students. It works perfectly for this strategy! Tumblebooks can often be accessed through a library website for free.

When I used this strategy, my struggling readers really enjoyed following along with the tape. I was surprised at first, because these were the kids that tended to goof off at any opportunity! They really enjoyed being sort of in-control of the situation, and able to work at their own pace. Our reading text had an audio recording of each story (CD format), so it was really easy to get going quickly with this strategy. All of my students were familiar with how to work a CD player, so they could easily adjust the controls, or get back to the right recording if they hit a wrong button. (I would put the CD on repeat for that particular track)We started in small groups to get them used to the routine. After a few sessions, they were working with this strategy at a station in the back of the room. I worked with each reader for at least one page of the text to make sure they were still on track. Really, they loved doing this and it really worked well for them. As is the key when introducing anything new, make sure you manage the students well at first, and they are aware of the rules and consequences.

How are you ensuring that student s read along with the tape? If there are limited tape recorders, how do you organize the rotation of students?

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"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader." — Margaret Fuller