Paired Reading - In School or at Home

What is paired reading?


Some recent studies suggest that “Paired Reading” can be a very effective way of helping children to improve their fluency and understanding.  “Paired Reading” is different from simply “hearing your child read” in that adult and child actually read together and for much of the time aloud in unison.  It aims to avoid making the child feel anxious about making mistakes or feeling as though he or she were being tested.  Paired reading can greatly boost children’s confidence and enjoyment in reading.

How to do it

  • You and your child read together from a book chosen by the child.  The child will gain more from this if the book is their own choice.
  • You and the child both read aloud together.  Sit close together.  Let the child hold the book, point to the words and set the pace.
  • The child attempts every word.
  • When the child makes a mistake or is unable to read a word, you say the word and allow time for the child to repeat it correctly before going on.
  • When the child feels able to read on his or her own he signals this, for example with a nudge and you stop reading, leaving the child to read on alone.
  • When reading alone, if the child makes a mistake or is unable to read alone, say the word and immediately start reading along together again until the next nudge.


An important point to stress is that “Paired Reading” is not just for younger less fluent readers.


It can have just as much effect with children who are already reading well.  Children soon learn to choose books of an appropriate level of difficulty.


By keeping the flow of reading going Paired Reading allows the child to gain a much greater sense of meaning and interest from a book, and unknown words are given in a context where they have more chance of being remembered.


Finding the time and place

Please try to do some Paired Reading every day: ideally about 15 minutes.  Even 5 minutes is well worthwhile.  Don’t do more than about 15 minutes unless your child wants to.


Don’t make your child do Paired Reading when they really want to do something else.  It is often helpful if you and the child become accustomed to the same time each day regularly.

If Mum or Dad haven’t got time, grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, older brothers and sisters can help.  It is important that they do Paired Reading in just the same way.

Try to find a place that’s quiet.  Children can’t read when it is noisy, or when other things are going on.  Get away from the T.V. or turn it off.  Make yourselves comfortable and close.

Finally some do’s and don’ts


  1. Make reading an enjoyable and relaxed activity.
  2. Be positive about your child’s reading.  Give praise and encouragement especially if it is a harder book so that they feel that reading has been a successful activity.
  3. Talk about the book as well as reading it.  Discuss the pictures, anticipate what might happen next or what could have happened instead.
  4. Encourage positive attitudes to reading by letting your child see you gaining pleasure from books and having books readily available for your child.
  5. Get your child to point underneath each word as they read it (make sure they does not put their finger on top of the word) while you point above if necessary.
  6. Feel free to sometimes read other books- their own or library books etc. provided they are happy to do so.
  7. Please see that all books are taken care of – kept out of the way of baby brother or the puppy!
  8. Please make an entry in your child’s reading diary every day, and take care that it is not lost as it forms a record of books read.


  1. Expect your child to know every word.  Tell them unknown words without making them struggle with the word, even if they have had it before.
  2. Expect your child to re-read a book once they have finished it, unless they want to.
  3. Say to your child “you’ve read that book before” if they bring a book home again.
  4. Worry if they sometimes bring a book that is too easy. They may need a confidence boost or may simply enjoy the story.
  5. Worry if your child sometimes brings a book that is too hard.  It may be a story they really like but they will need more help from you.
  6. Bring competitiveness and make comparisons with other children.
  7. Make reading a tense activity – if you are tense or pressed for time you will communicate this to your child.

To download this information as a leaflet (PDF file), click here.