Paired (or Partner) Reading

Paired reading is a research-based fluency strategy used with readers who lack fluency. In this strategy, students read aloud to each other. When using partners, more fluent readers can be paired with less fluent readers, or children who read at the same level can be paired to reread a story they have already read. Paired reading can be used with any book, taking turns reading by sentence, paragraph, page or chapter.


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

Why use paired reading?

  • It helps students work together.
  • It encourages cooperation and supports peer-assisted learning.

How to use paired reading

How to pair students

Pair students either by same reading ability or by high level readers with low level readers. Use the following steps to pair high-level readers with low-level readers:

  • List the students in order from highest to lowest according to reading ability
  • Divide the list in half
  • Place the top student in the first list with the top student in the second list
  • Continue until all students have been partnered
  • Be sensitive to pairings of students with special needs, including learning or emotional needs. Adjust pairings as necessary
  • The reader from the first list should read first while the reader from the second list listens and follows along
  • The second reader should pick up where the first reader stops. If additional practice is needed, the second reader can reread what the first reader read
  • Encourage pairs to ask each other about what was read. "What was your page about? What was your favorite part?"

Implementing the strategy

  1. Introduce the students to the Paired Reading strategy. This includes:
    • Establishing a routine for students to adopt so that they know the step-by-step requirements for engaging in paired reading (i.e. Will they read out loud, simultaneously? Will they take turns with each person reading a paragraph? a page? Or will one person read while the other person listens?).
    • Teaching students an error-correction procedure to use when supporting each other's reading (i.e. re-reading misread words; signals for difficulty).
    • Modeling the procedure to ensure that students understand how to use the strategy.
  2. Ask students to begin reading in pairs and adjust reading speed if reading simultaneously so they stay together.
  3. Have students offer feedback and praise frequently for correct reading.
  4. Monitor and support students as they work.

See Strategies to Build Reading Fluency to learn more.

Partner reading: grade 2 (whole class)

This video depicts a second grade whole class engaging in a partner reading activity. There are 14 students in this demonstration and they are reading instructional-level text. (From the What Works Clearinghouse practice guide: Foundational skills to support reading for understanding in kindergarten through 3rd grade.)

Collect resources

Language Arts

Teachers can integrate the use of technology by having students use the paired reading strategy with the Clifford stories (including Spanish versions). See example >

This PDF includes dozens of poems for shared, choral, paired, and echo reading. See example >

Social Studies

Students can be paired and work together through these listen and learn examples See example >

Differentiated instruction

For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, students with learning disabilities, and younger learners

  • Differentiate the reading material provided to pairs.
  • Encourage rereading passages, rather than reading forward, for students who need extra practice.

See the research that supports this strategy

Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L., & Burish, P. (2000). Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies: An Evidence-Based Practice to Promote Reading Achievement. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 15(2), 85-91.

Koskinen, P. & Blum, I. (1986). Paired repeated reading: A classroom strategy for developing fluent reading. The Reading Teacher, 40(1), 70-75.

Topping, K. (1995). Paired reading, spelling and writing: The handbook for teachers and parents. Continuum International Publishing Group.

Strickland, D. S., Ganske, K., & Monroe, J. K. (2002). Supporting struggling readers and writers: Strategies for classroom intervention 3-6. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Children's books to use with this strategy

Frog and Toad Together

Frog and Toad Together

By: Arnold Lobel
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Frog and toad are the best of friends who do everything together.

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices

By: Paul Fleischman
Genre: Poetry
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

These poems introduce various insects and their lives; ideal for sharing aloud and for relating to informational books on insects.

Are You Ready to Play Outside?

Are You Ready to Play Outside?

By: Mo Willems
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Piggie and his elephant friend, Gerald, are back this time to play outdoors in rain and in sun. Their unlikely friendship is patient, gently humorous, and reflective of friendship — regardless of age or species!

Eve of the Emperor Penguin

Eve of the Emperor Penguin

By: Mary Pope Osborne
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Annie and Jack find themselves in remote and frozen Antarctica in contemporary times on a mission to save a small orphan — and Merlin himself. In this Magic Tree House story, fact combines with fantasy though readers can learn more about the place and its inhabitants in a companion volume, Penguins and Antarctica: A Magic Tree House Research Guide.

You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Stories to Read Together

You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Stories to Read Together

By: Mary Ann Hoberman
Genre: Poetry
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Rhyming tales written for two voices makes an ideal — and humorous — introduction to readers' theater. Well known fairy tales have been adapted, reorganized and reinvigorated with lively language and sprightly illustrations, worthy of many dramatizations.


This information is greatly use here in my ELAR class. Thanks for having it.

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"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo