Shared Reading

Shared Reading is an interactive reading experience that occurs when students join in or share the reading of a book or other text while guided and supported by a teacher. The teacher explicitly models the skills of proficient readers, including reading with fluency and expression. The shared reading model often uses oversized books (referred to as big books) with enlarged print and illustrations.

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

Why use shared reading?

  • It provides struggling readers with necessary support.
  • Shared reading of predictable text can build sight word knowledge and reading fluency
  • Allows students to enjoy materials that they may not be able to read on their own.
  • Ensures that all students feel successful by providing support to the entire group.

How to use shared reading

  1. Introduce the story by discussing the title, cover, and author/illustrator. Ask the students to make predictions regarding what they think the story might be about.
  2. Read the story aloud to the students using appropriate inflection and tone. Pause and ask the students to make predictions. Ask brief questions to determine students' comprehension level.
  3. Conclude the reading by reserving time for reactions and comments. Ask questions about the story and relate the story to the students' similar experiences. Ask the children to retell the story in their own words.
  4. Re-read the story and/or allow time for independent reading.
  5. Conduct follow-up activities such as making crafts related to the story.

Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom: Shared Reading in Kindergarten

Give students with an opportunity to practice reading fluency and expression through a shared reading with the class. The teacher asks questions as she reads to help students stay engaged. See the lesson plan.

This video is published with permission from the Balanced Literacy Diet. See many more related how-to videos with lesson plans in the Reading Fluency and Expression section.

Collect resources

Language Arts

This site gives teachers some ideas for using shared reading with younger students and less skilled readers. See example >


This site offers several examples of how activities related to learning about science topics can be centered around the shared reading strategy. Downloads of several different poems are provided. See example >

Social Studies

This site provides five examples of shared reading lessons based upon the book Map It! by Elspeth Leacock. See example >

Shared Reading Booklists

Differentiated instruction

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

  • Teachers may wish to have Spanish copies of the shared reading books.
  • Books can be kept in an area accessible to students for independent and familiar rereading by students.
  • Ask students to write their own similar story using the same theme or sentence/language pattern of the book that has been shared.
  • Teachers can use sentence strips and have students can retell or build the story by putting the strips in order.
  • Have students write their predictions based upon what would happen next if the story were to continue.

Related resources

See the research that supports this strategy

Fountas, I. C., & Pinnell, G. S. (1996). Guided Reading, Good First Teaching for All Children. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

Children's books to use with this strategy

Weather: Poems for All Seasons

Weather: Poems for All Seasons

By: Lee Bennett Hopkins
Genre: Poetry
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Easier to read poems focus on weather and seasons.

The Tree that Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science and Imagination

The Tree that Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science and Imagination

By: Mary Ann Hoberman
Genre: Poetry
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Clearly organized with lucid introductions to each section as well as for select poems, this handsome anthology includes a range of poems and poets for an evocative, informative, and often inspiring look at science and nature.

Honey I Love and Other Poems

Honey I Love and Other Poems

By: Eloise Greenfield, Diane Dillon
Genre: Poetry, Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A collection of poetry conveys the joys of a young girl.

Emma's Yucky Brother

Emma's Yucky Brother

By: Jean Little, Jennifer Plecas
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Emma is thrilled that her family is adopting a 4-year old boy. She soon learns, though, that being an older sister isn’t what she thought it would be at all. Gradually, Emma and Max start to feel like siblings as each child begins to adapt to their family's new configuration. Expressive, simply drawn illustrations extend the smooth text.


Shared reading and the foundations for reading are important techniques because it helps teach children the basics of the alphabet, sounds, and all the components that go along with reading skills. Reading aloud helps students sound out words independently and teaches them what certain vowels and consonants sound like when placed together or separated. I also believe shared reading is important because it helps build students' confidence by reading out loud and be willing to make mistakes in front of their peers. They have the teacher there to help them when needed, and allow them to succeed on their own. These are important components to help students become strong readers.

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"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!" — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943