Shared reading is a collaborative experience for all students. This activity can engage students in the reading process regardless of their reading levels or reading abilities. As the teacher and students read together, challenging texts become accessible and students build experience with the written word and strengthen their problem-solving abilities.

During this exercise, teachers have the opportunity to model the practices and thought process of a good reader. In addition, teachers can also provide in-depth strategy instruction.

Tools for Shared Reading

Oversized big books or e-books work very well on a projector or interactive whiteboard during the shared reading experience. The enlarged print and illustrations are clear and vibrant, allowing every student to see and enjoy the reading exercise even at the back of the room.

Shared reading stories feature rhythm, rhyme, and rich language that students will want to read again and again. Shared reading can also include poetry and songs, and even expository texts. Vivid illustrations and large, appealing photographs keep the students’ attention.

How to Practice Shared Reading

Shared reading allows teachers to involve students in the text and focus on a variety of visual and cognitive aspects. In this exercise, both the teacher and students have important roles.

During shared reading, the teacher reads the texts out loud, points a finger or sweeps a hand under the words, and invites students to follow along.

Some children may participate only at the listening level, while others read along with the teacher. Reading in unison gives the students confidence. They are supported by their peers rather than isolated or concerned about making a mistake. Along the way, the teacher stops and thinks aloud about the strategies. This helps readers better understand the text and provides the necessary structure for a successful experience.

Teachers can then reread the text over a period of days or even weeks to model additional reading and thinking strategies, always with a specific focus in mind. There is no need to worry that students will tire of the book. In fact, they will likely clamor for the book to be read again as they come to consider the story a familiar and trusted friend.