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Young elementary student reading aloud to another student

Paired (or Partner) Reading

Paired reading is a research-based fluency strategy used with readers who lack fluency. In this strategy, students read aloud to each other. When using partners, more fluent readers can be paired with less fluent readers, or children who read at the same level can be paired to reread a story they have already read. Paired reading can be used with any book, taking turns reading by sentence, paragraph, page or chapter.

Key Information



When To Use This Strategy

During reading

Appropriate Group Size

With small groups

Why use paired reading?

  • It helps students work together.
  • It encourages cooperation and supports peer-assisted learning.

How to use paired reading

How to pair students

Pair students either by same reading ability or by high level readers with low level readers. Use the following steps to pair high-level readers with low-level readers:

  • List the students in order from highest to lowest according to reading ability
  • Divide the list in half
  • Place the top student in the first list with the top student in the second list
  • Continue until all students have been partnered
  • Be sensitive to pairings of students with special needs, including learning or emotional needs. Adjust pairings as necessary
  • The reader from the first list should read first while the reader from the second list listens and follows along
  • The second reader should pick up where the first reader stops. If additional practice is needed, the second reader can reread what the first reader read
  • Encourage pairs to ask each other about what was read. “What was your page about? What was your favorite part?”

Implementing the strategy

  1. Introduce the students to the Paired Reading strategy. This includes:
    • Establishing a routine for students to adopt so that they know the step-by-step requirements for engaging in paired reading (i.e. Will they read out loud, simultaneously? Will they take turns with each person reading a paragraph? a page? Or will one person read while the other person listens?).
    • Teaching students an error-correction procedure to use when supporting each other’s reading (i.e. re-reading misread words; signals for difficulty).
    • Modeling the procedure to ensure that students understand how to use the strategy.
  2. Ask students to begin reading in pairs and adjust reading speed if reading simultaneously so they stay together.
  3. Have students offer feedback and praise frequently for correct reading.
  4. Monitor and support students as they work.

See Strategies to Build Reading Fluency to learn more.

Partner reading: grade 2 (whole class)

This video depicts a second grade whole class engaging in a partner reading activity. There are 14 students in this demonstration and they are reading instructional-level text. (From the What Works Clearinghouse practice guide: Foundational skills to support reading for understanding in kindergarten through 3rd grade.)

Collect resources

Language Arts

Teachers can integrate the use of technology by having students use the paired reading strategy with the Clifford stories (including Spanish versions). See example › (opens in a new window)

This PDF includes dozens of poems for shared, choral, paired, and echo reading. See example ›

Social Studies

Students can be paired and work together through these listen and learn examples See example › (opens in a new window)

Differentiated instruction

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

  • Differentiate the reading material provided to pairs.
  • Encourage rereading passages, rather than reading forward, for students who need extra practice.

See the research that supports this strategy

Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L., & Burish, P. (2000). Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies: An Evidence-Based Practice to Promote Reading Achievement. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 15(2), 85-91.

Koskinen, P. & Blum, I. (1986). Paired repeated reading: A classroom strategy for developing fluent reading. The Reading Teacher, 40(1), 70-75.

Topping, K. (1995). Paired reading, spelling and writing: The handbook for teachers and parents. Continuum International Publishing Group.

Strickland, D. S., Ganske, K., & Monroe, J. K. (2002). Supporting struggling readers and writers: Strategies for classroom intervention 3-6. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Children’s books to use with this strategy

Topics this strategy is especially helpful for