Partnered Reading Helps Improve Reading

Reading is a complex process and most young children need a certain level of maturity to master the skills required to read fluently and with comprehension.

Some children struggle with reading and many experience frustration learning to read well on their own.

A very successful method of  assisting a slow or reluctant reader is

partnered reading. 

What is partnered reading?

Basically, this method uses an advanced reader who sits shoulder to shoulder, or with the younger  reader on their lap. (I use the word “younger” in place of “weaker/ beginner” reader.)

The advanced reader reads the passage first, and assists the younger reader sound out or read the passage.

An older brother or sister, granny or extended member of the family can help the young reader in the same way.

Very young children are happy to sit on mom/ dad’s lap and read together. Reading should be an intimate and enjoyable time.

I found that my youngest child was far more relaxed sitting on my lap than next to me.   When on my lap, she would breathe with more ease and not squirm as much when she battled with her reading. I loved the security and comfort that I could give her just by cuddling her as she battled through her decoding.

What does the partner do?

The advanced reader must read  the passage aloud (in a normal voice)  to the child first.  This helps the young reader recognize the words when they re-read the passage.

The younger child then reads as the advanced reader whispers the same words right near the young child’s ear.

The young reader should read aloud a  little louder than the helper.  They will hear the slight whispered echo and this confirms what they are reading.

If  the younger reader battles to read a word, the helper assists decoding (breaking up the word and sounding each phonic sound out), he/she should point to each letter and sound the letters out.  Encourage the younger reader to sound it aloud with the helper and let the young reader say the decoded phonic sounds fast and “put it together”. (e.g.: “ss …aa … tt… = sat” )

The next day the young reader reads the same passage with the help of the partner.

The same passage or reading section must be practiced for several days.

In this way, the young reader reads with more confidence and fluency.

Of course, if the child become bored with the section or has just memorized the passage, go on to a new passage.

If the child makes more than 3 errors in a sentence, or still struggles with decoding, but has repeated the passage for several days, just move on and get on with the story.  Boredom will add to the sense of frustration.

Add some remediation activities in your schooling schedule.  (Phonic skills, letter recognition games, matching letters, blending sounds, flashcards etc.)  If your child still makes no progress after some time, he/she may need professional assessment.  Sometimes, an occupational therapist can give excellent therapy exercises which greatly improve reading skills.  Check your child’s eyes.  Many reading problems are wonderfully “solved” when all the child  needed was glasses.

Practical tips:

The child should hold the book while they read.

Place the book on a pillow for added comfort and better posture.

The beginner reader should point under each word as he reads.

Some children benefit by using a narrow cardboard strip as a row marker and cover the passage below the one they are reading.  This strip helps prevent the child “getting lost”.  It can also be used to help tracking (moving  just the eyes [and not the head]  from left to right.)

After reading:

Talk about the pictures.

Let the young reader tell you the passage in their own words.

Ask them what they think will happen next.

Ask them to tell you the most important part of what they just read.

Ask them to draw the story.

Ask “why” questions.

Comprehension is the most important aspect af all reading.  After all, we read to understand and learn.

I found this interesting article by

“If it’s true that children ‘learn to read’ from kindergarten through third grade and ‘read to learn’ from third grade through high school, then it stands to reason that those first few years of school are among the most important in a child’s life in terms of his or her academic future.

The bottom line? Parents have a near-sacred responsibility to read to their children — not occasionally, but DAILY. Reading aloud, pointing to pictures that represent the words being spoken and vice-versa, talking about the story — it’s all good, no matter how many times the giant falls down the beanstalk.  And the example you set for your child by taking the time out to do this, will pay off many times over.”

While most the resources I found on the internet refer to school classroom methods, partnered reading works perfectly at home.

Here are some references:

An excellent pdf document on partnered reading by

A pdf document on partnered reading by Texasreadingdl.edb

Read the article Helping Your Slow Reader at Heart of the Matter Online.

Reading describe reading programs and its importance.

Reading Rockets describes partnered reading in their program.

(I do not endorse any program or web site.  These are some of the useful sites I found when I researched this topic. 🙂 )

What other partnered reading tips do you have?

13 thoughts on “Partnered Reading Helps Improve Reading

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  7. Great idea. Partnered reading is a great way for beginning readers to build confidence. It also keeps books and the act of reading a safe and nurturing activity because of the proximity of a loved one.


  8. Pingback: Partnered Reading Tutorial for Getting Reluctant Readers to Read : PragmaticMom

  9. My daughter and I spent 45 minutes reading on my lap today. We had a stack of 12 books by my side when we were done. She just turned 27 months but I’ve been reading to her at nap and bedtime since she was a year and it has been the best activity I ever could have chosen to share with her.

    Her imagination and vocabulary and even retention astound me every day and I attribute her progress to daily reading aloud and conversation.


    • Your shared reading time is precious! I hope that you and your daughter will continue to enjoy books and reading together for many, many more years. My 15 year old daughter still loves to listen to me read aloud to her younger sisters!


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