Struggling readers need a thorough one-on-one review of phonics lessons, additional instruction on developing better comprehension in both fiction and non-fiction materials, and drills to develop automaticity. The ability to instantly recognize the most common words used in sentences, such as, can, it, the, was, are, etc. is considered automaticity. Although, re-teaching and reviewing important reading skills are all necessary components to helping struggling readers improve their reading skills. In addition, supplementary reading activities should also be fun and motivating.

Paired Reading, is an activity parents, teachers and even a classmate can do with a child who is struggling to learn to read. One-on-one time with a more a more capable reader is not only effective, but is an activity that is enjoyable and encouraging for struggling readers.

Paired reading is simple. A more capable reader reads aloud, while the less capable reader, the struggling reader, follows along.

Here are six steps to follow when pair reading:

1. Select a book or Story – The reading material should be at your child’s instructional level. This means a book or story your child can read, but has not mastered.

2. Preview the book or Story – Sit with your child or student and look at any visual clues, such as illustrations or chapter headings.

3. Set a purpose for reading - Encourage struggling readers to make predictions about what is going to be read. A good prompt for this is first look at the pictures, and then ask your child or student what s/he thinks the story is going to be about.

4. Finger Point - Make sure the struggling reader follows along with his or her finger, pointing under each word as it’s being read aloud. Seeing words while simultaneously hearing them helps children develop sight word vocabulary.

5. Accurate Reading - Read aloud with accuracy and expression in your voice. Remember to read slowly, enough so the struggling reader can see and hear each word simultaneously.

6. Textbook Paired Reading – When parents and teachers read textbook passages with their struggling readers they should begin by reading the assessment questions found at the end the chapter. As the content is read stop periodically to discuss and decide whether what was read so far answered any of the end-of-the-chapter questions. Repeat this process until the end of the text.

Variations of paired reading include: The capable reader (parent, teacher, or fellow classmate) and the struggling reader read an identical passage aloud, at the same time. The capable reader and struggling reader take turns reading a book or passage aloud.

Paired reading is also a good reading activity to help struggling readers develop better reading comprehension. This strategy works because the better reader is doing the work of reading the words. Having the words read allows the struggling reader to focus on the meaning within the printed words. As a rule, stories are most often used in pair reading sessions. However, textbook chapters and other information passages can be pair read, as well.

There are thousands of activities developed to help children learn to read. Paired Reading is an activity parents, teachers, and even classmates can perform to help struggling readers become better and more confident readers, while exposing them to the enjoyment of reading.

Author's Bio: 

Carol Fraser Hagen is a former elementary Reading Specialist and Dyslexia Therapist from the Midwest. She enjoys gardening, bird watching and her Jack Russell terrier. Her website is
Carol has a bachelors degree in Secondary Education she holds a Masters Degree in Special Reading and an Educational Specialist in Curriculum and Instruction. In addition to writing about reading education Carol is a freelance writer and a published children’s writer.

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