Paired Reading

The student reads aloud in tandem with an accomplished reader. At a student signal, the helping reader stops reading, while the student continues on. When the student commits a reading error, the helping reader resumes reading in tandem.


  • Reading book


  • The teacher, parent, adult tutor, or peer tutor working with the student should be trained in advance to use the paired-reading approach.

Steps in Implementing This Intervention:

Step 1: Sit with the student in a quiet location without too many distractions. Position the book selected for the reading session so that both you and the student can easily follow the text.

Step 2:  Say to the student, "Now we are going to read aloud together for a little while. Whenever you want to read alone, just tap the back of my hand like this [demonstrate] and I will stop reading. If you come to a word you don't know, I will tell you the word and begin reading with you again.".

Step 3:  Begin reading aloud with the student. If the student misreads a word, point to the word and pronounce it. Then have the student repeat the word. When the student reads the word correctly, resume reading through the passage.

Step 4:  When the child delivers the appropriate signal (a hand tap), stop reading aloud and instead follow along silently as the student continues with oral reading. Be sure occasionally to praise the student in specific terms for good reading (e.g., "That was a hard word. You did a nice job sounding it out!").

Step 5:  If, while reading alone, the child either commits a reading error or hesitates for longer than 5 seconds, point to the error-word and pronounce it. Then tell the student to say the word. When the student pronounces the error-word correctly, begin reading aloud again in unison with the student.

Step 6:  Continue reading aloud with the student until he or she again signals to read alone.


  • Topping, K. (1987). Paired reading: A powerful technique for parent use. Reading Teacher, 40, 608-614.

Jim's Hints

Consider Using Paired Reading for Peer Tutoring or as a Parent Strategy. Paired reading is a highly structured but simple strategy that can easily be taught to others-including to school-age children and youth. If you have a pool of responsible older students available you may want to create a cross-age peer tutoring program that uses paired reading as its central intervention. Or train parents to use this simple reading strategy when they read with their children at home.