Teaching Strategy

Shared Reading

Close and Critical Reading
Grade Level


In shared reading, learners observe experts reading with fluency and expression while following along or otherwise engaging with the text. This strategy should focus on a specific instructional element (or mini-lesson) that improves targeted reading comprehension skills and promotes Common Core readiness.


During and after reading


Shared reading establishes an enjoyable and supportive context for reading. It allows all students to participate as readers in a classroom with diverse literacy needs. Shared reading also provides struggling readers with necessary support, enhances sight word knowledge, builds reading fluency and equips students to thoughtfully engage with the text's ideas after multiple readings.


Before Reading:

  1. Plan your shared reading using the sample planning guide.
  2. Select a short text from the central text library. Consider a text the class has already read to introduce this strategy. 
  3. Identify a shared reading area where students can gather close and display the text there.
  4. Project or display the text in a location visible to all students.
  5. Identify the focus of instruction for the shared reading mini-lesson. Note that all mini-lessons should be based in the text (not outside the text) and require students to use textual evidence in their responses. Consider these possibilities:
    • Explaining what the text says explicitly or implicitly using textual evidence
    • Analyzing text structure
    • Asking and answering text-dependent questions 
    • Identifying and navigating key vocabulary as it is used in the text (Tier Two and Tier Three)
    • Identifying author’s message and purpose
    • Making inferences
    • Explaining how illustrations contribute to meaning
    • Summarizing

During First Reading:

  1. Introduce the new text to the class.
  2. Select an expert reader.
  3. Ask all students to read along in their heads—using their own copy or a projected version of the text—while the expert reader reads the entire text aloud with fluency and expression.
  4. Instruct students to pay close attention to the gist of the text.

During Second Reading:

  1. Ask students to participate in reading certain parts of the text using one of the following oral reading techniques:
    • Choral reading
    • Partner reading
    • Repeated reading
    • Popcorn reading
    • Reader's theater


  1. After students complete two readings of the text, introduce a mini-lesson topic appropriate to the text and your students.
  2. Determine the grouping in which students will practice the skill (independently, partner, small group, whole class) and the medium in which they will demonstrate understanding (discussion, writing, art).
  3. Students return to the central text to practice the skill identified in the mini-lesson.

English language learners:

Shared reading provides opportunities for English language learners to hear fluent reading. It can be done in English or in students’ native language(s). Be sure English language learners understand the difference between shared reading and Think Aloud. Shared reading should explicitly model expression, fluency and the joy of reading. Think Aloud should support comprehension. Clearly state the objective before modeling either strategy.

Connection to anti-bias education:

Shared reading contributes to a positive learning community. The strategy allows students to get to know each other as individuals regardless of in-group and out-group identities. Shared reading ensures that all students feel successful by providing support to the entire group.

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