Shared Reading

Read Aloud

UDL 3.2 UDL 5.3

Shared reading is an interactive reading activity during which the teacher guides a group of students or the whole class through reading a common text. The purpose of shared reading is for the teacher to model fluent oral reading and the metacognitive skills that support a reader in making meaning of a text. While shared reading can take many different forms, in all cases it requires that students can see and follow along with the text that is being read aloud. As the teacher pauses occasionally to demonstrate reading strategies through think alouds, students gain knowledge of the skills needed to read and understand difficult texts. At lower grade levels, the text is often read multiple times, with opportunities for the students to join the teacher in reading aloud. Although shared reading is most commonly used in lower elementary grades to support the development of early reading skills (concepts of print, sight word recognition, etc.), it can also benefit middle and high school students. For older students, shared reading is particularly helpful in improving students’ attitudes toward reading and increasing their ability to read diverse texts, including historical documents and informational texts. Additionally, as students come together to actively engage in a shared text, this promotes classroom community by connecting students through a common language and shared experience.

Implementation Tips

Make Text Visible
There are many ways to make the text visible for students during shared reading. In addition to using big books (oversized books with enlarged text), some teachers use document cameras to project a text. Also, shorter texts can be photocopied or written on a whiteboard or chart paper. If you are reading through a longer book with older students, using a class set of books is another option.
Text Selection
When selecting print materials for shared reading, pick high-interest, engaging texts. Shared reading is a great opportunity to introduce students to new genres or texts that may be too difficult for most students to read independently. Try using a variety of texts for shared reading such as picture books, short stories, poetry, songs, informational texts, and even student writing.
Student Participation
Encourage student participation during shared reading by asking students to share with a partner, write a reflection, indicate agreement using hand gestures (fist to five, thumbs up sign, etc.), or ask questions.
Prepare for a shared reading lesson by planning think alouds beforehand. Determine a few skills that can be authentically demonstrated when reading the selected text. Try not to interrupt the reading too frequently as it can detract from students’ overall enjoyment of the text.
Extension Activities
Following a shared reading, provide opportunities for students to continue to engage with the text. Students can extend their learning by responding to a prompt or completing an activity in small groups. When using big books, many teachers leave copies of previously read books in an accessible place so students can reread them independently. Older students can be trained to conduct their own shared reading groups.
Student Modeling
After modeling fluent reading and think alouds with older students, try selecting strong readers to lead smaller groups in shared reading activities. Remind students to “read like you do” by reading fluently with expression and sharing their thinking while they are reading.


Lower Elementary
Shared reading in lower grades can help students practice oral reading fluency and learn frequently used words. Below is a brief outline of a shared reading lesson using a picture book in a K-3 classroom. Before reading: Begin the shared reading time by introducing the book to students. After reading the title and showing students the front and back covers, model making predictions about the story. You can also briskly flip through each page of the book pausing to comment on illustrations as you continue sharing any predictions or questions you have. Before reading, allow students to share some of their predictions or connections to the story with partners. During reading: Read the story aloud with appropriate pacing and expression. As you read, encourage students to follow along with their eyes. (If you are using a Big Book, point at each word as you read. If students have individual copies of the book, remind them to track your reading by pointing at the words in their own book.) Pause occasionally to model how you decipher a new word -- using clues from pictures on the page or by applying previously taught phonics skills. Allow students to share new predictions or confirm predictions at various points while reading. After reading: Ask questions to build students’ comprehension and connections to the story. In subsequent shared reading times, you can return to the same book and allow students to read aloud with you through echo reading (students repeat a line or phrase after the teacher) or choral reading (students read along with the teacher).
Upper Elementary
Shared reading in upper elementary grades can be a way to support vocabulary development by modeling how to solve for unknown words. During a shared reading of The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis in a fifth grade classroom, a teacher’s think alouds might sound the following way: [Teacher reads from the book: “This guy was real desperate for a friend because even though I wouldn’t say much back to him he kept jabbering away at me all through class.” (p. 33)] I’m not exactly sure what the word jabbering means. I’m going to keep reading this page a bit more to see if it gives me more information to figure out the definition. If I still can’t figure it out, then I’ll ask a friend. [Teacher continues reading aloud and pauses after reading the line: “And, man, this kid could really talk! He was yakking a mile a minute…” (p. 33)] Look! A few sentences later Kenny is still describing the new boy and Kenny says that he “could really talk” and that he’s “yakking a mile a minute.” That makes me think that the new boy talks a lot. I bet that is what jabbering means -- talking. If I put talking in for jabbering in the original sentence does it make sense? Yes, it does. So, jabbering is another word I can use to show someone is very talkative.
Middle School
Informational texts can be used during shared reading to demonstrate the importance of paying attention to text structures and features while reading. For example, while reading from a science textbook a teacher might pause to discuss how headings help her better understand the text. I’m noticing that there are several bold headings on this page. What’s cool about these headings is that each of them is phrased as a question like “What is sound?” and “How does sound travel?” These headings give me a clue about what the author is going to explain next. These headings also give me an idea of some of the main ideas in this section and can help me if I want to find specific information later on. I’ll make sure to come back to these headings when I’m writing my notes to check that I have all the important information from the section.
High School
Shared reading can be an opportunity to model integrating different reading comprehension strategies (e.g. inferencing, summarizing, predicting, questioning, visualizing, evaluating, etc.) while reading a text. When reading Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven” a teacher might to share the following think alouds with students: These first two stanzas really help me visualize the setting. When the author uses phrases like “midnight dreary” and “bleak December” It reminds me of a scene from a scary movie. I picture a deserted neighborhood street in the middle of the night. Everything is dark, and all the trees are bare because of the cold. At this point in my reading, I think something bad is going to happen to the speaker of the poem. Stanzas 15 and 16 are a little repetitive. They both start with the line -- “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!” and end with “Quoth the Raven 'Nevermore.'” Since the author repeats these phrases, that signifies that this part of the poem is important. In fact, it seems like this might be the climax of the poem. The speaker appears to be getting agitated. I wonder why he keeps asking the bird questions if he knows it only says “nevermore.”

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