Skip to main content
Young child wearing headphones will reading printed book

Audio-Assisted Reading

Audio-assisted reading is an individual or group reading activity where students read along in their books as they hear a fluent reader read the book on an audio recording (audiotape, audiobook, or mobile device). As confidence and reading skills develop, students read the same passage or text without the assistance of the audio recording.

Key Information



When To Use This Strategy

During reading

Appropriate Group Size

With small groups

Why use audio-assisted reading?

  • It helps to build fluency skills including proper phrasing and expression.
  • It helps students improve sight word recognition.
  • It helps build comprehension.
  • It allows students to hear the tone and pace of a skillful reader.
  • It’s a flexible strategy that can be used across content areas.

How to use audio-assisted reading

  1. Choose a reading passage and audio recording of the reading that is slightly above students’ independent reading levels.
  2. Ask students to listen to the audio while following along on the paper copy of the passage.
  3. Have students read out loud along out loud with the audio recording.
  4. Ask students to read the passage without the audio.
  5. Have students read and re-read along with the audio until they feel comfortable reading the text unassisted.


  • Observe students as they are listening and reading to ensure that they’re able to follow along accurately.
  • Most researchers recommend that teachers (or other models of fluent reading) create the audiotapes or recordings. The recording should not include distractions such as sound effects or music.
  • Digital recording devices such as tablets and mobile phones are easy-to-use tools for audio recordings.
  • If limited recording devices are available, rotate students through using a timer or as one of your stations during center time.

Collect resources

Language Arts

Storynory (opens in a new window) gives teachers and parents links to songs, poems, nursery rhymes, myths, and other stories to listen to online or to download.

Visit LibriVox (opens in a new window) to download MP3 audio versions of chapters from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Children’s Books Online (opens in a new window) contains several audio books teachers can download for this fluency activity.

Looking for more children’s audio books? See our article, Listen and Learn with Audio Books.

Differentiated instruction

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

  • Students needing more support can be asked to listen to the tape and read along with it, reading just a little slower so that they are “echoing” the taped reading.
  • Students who are more skilled readers can try to stay one or two syllables ahead so that the tape is an “echo”.
  • Teachers may wish to have students use the computer to listen to online-audio readings or MP3 readings for this activity.

See the research that supports this strategy

Armbruster,B., Lehr, F., & Osborn, J. (2001). Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read. Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA).

Koskinen, P. S., Blum, I. H., Bisson, S. A., Phillips, S. M., Creamer, T. S., & Baker, T. K. (1999). Shared reading, books, and audiotapes: Supporting diverse students in school and at home. The Reading Teacher, 52, 430-444.

Texas Reading Initiative. (2007). Fluency: Instructional Guidelines and Student Activities.

Children’s books to use with this strategy

Topics this strategy is especially helpful for