Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Lessons Plans

Our lesson plans are written and reviewed by educators using current research and the best instructional practices and are aligned to state and national standards. Choose from hundreds of topics and strategies.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



HomeProfessional DevelopmentStrategy Guides

Strategy Guide

Shared Reading Opportunities for Direct Literacy Instruction

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)


Shared Reading Opportunities for Direct Literacy Instruction

Grades K – 12

International Literacy Association

Strategy Guide Series Teaching Literacy Across the Gradual Release of Responsibility

See All Strategy Guides in this series 


Research Basis

Strategy in Practice

Related Resources

Shared reading offers rich instructional opportunities as teachers share in the workload while students access the text too. Embedded in the middle of the gradual release of responsibility, shared reading has elements of a read-aloud and guided reading, but it's most valuable for explicit demonstration opportunities with shared text.

Research Basis


Don Holdaway introduced shared reading in 1979, praising its instructional density, the influence of corporate learning, and its engagement of students. Holdaway (1972) explains that shared reading connects students through shared feelings and shared experiences. Thus shared reading is more than a lesson; it becomes a shared event. Holdaway (1972) elaborates on the learning opportunities innate in shared learning involving common language that is meaningful to the students. Justice & Pence (2005) expand this idea, explaining that in shared reading the teacher intentionally encourages and supports the student’s engagement and participation. Meanwhile, the student gathers meaning and constructs knowledge. While it originates with young children, shared reading has potential through middle grades and high school (Allen, 2000). Shared reading is usually instructionally dense because it is the step in the instructional continuum just before guided reading (Burkins & Croft, 2010).


Allen, J. (2000). Yellow brick roads: Shared and guided paths to independent reading 4–12. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.


Burkins, J.M., & Croft, M.M. (2010). Preventing misguided reading: New strategies for guided reading teachers. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.


Holdaway, D. (1979). The foundations of literacy. New York: Scholastic.


Holdaway, D. (1972). Independence in reading: A handbook on individualized procedures. New York: Scholastic.


Justice, L.M., & Pence, K.L. (2005). Scaffolding with storybooks: A guide for enhancing young children's language and literacy achievement. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.


Strategy in Practice

back to top


Before Reading

  • Select a more difficult text than one you would use for guided reading but simpler than one you would read during a teacher read-aloud. Choose based on relevant criteria such as print features, patterns in the text, and comprehension opportunities.
  • Secure a copy of the text for each student because the heart of shared reading involves all students and the teacher looking at the text while reading together. Possible variations are small groups reading a common text or dyad reading (Morgan, Wilcox, & Eldredge, 2000).
  • Preread the text, identifying your teaching points. Focus on a comprehension purpose, and direct the experience toward meaning work. Shared reading is highly useful for teaching about print and for illustrating strategies of cross-checking and monitoring. Plan carefully for these teaching moments to identify the lesson’s most important points.

During Reading

  • Make sure everyone has access to the text.
  • Support fluent shared reading in which either you or a proficient student reads the text aloud while others read aloud at the same time, with periodic stops to discuss content. This implementation may vary depending on the grade level, the purpose of the lesson, and the difficulty of the text. In kindergarten, shared reading often involves an enlarged text that everyone reads together, while middle school students engage in shared reading with partners or in small groups.
  • Engage in a think-aloud, modeling the strategies that are your instructional focus for the lesson. Support students in concentrating their energies on that focus. For high school students, the lesson can be about understanding Shakespeare’s language, while a third-grade class can practice using context to determine the meanings of words.
  • Regardless of grade level, shared reading should engage students in a discussion of the text. Support students in thinking deeply about their reading and in discovering things in the text.
  • Incorporate the text into other reading experiences, such as students rereading the text independently or finding other texts by the same author.

After Reading

  • Revisit the text during other group reading times.
  • Provide students with their own copies of the text that they can carry into their independent reading.
  • If the text remains difficult for some students, let them practice during guided reading or with more teacher support in a small-group, shared reading experience.


Related Resources

back to top


Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Shared Poetry Reading: Teaching Print Concepts, Rhyme, and Vocabulary

The rhyme and reason behind this lesson is that students will need to develop important reading skills to increase their reading fluency.


Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Recurring Lesson

Learning Centers: From Shared to Independent Practice

Seven blind mice—see how they spend each day of the week in this lesson that uses the book Seven Blind Mice to guide students through shared reading, writing, and listening activities.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Recurring Lesson

Using Word Storms to Explore Vocabulary and Encourage Critical Thinking

Students learn that dogs are more than just pets in this lesson, which teaches them to use research and vocabulary-acquisition strategies to learn and write about working dogs.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Nature Reflections: Interactive Language Practice for English-Language Learners

Students whose first language is not English reflect on nature through readings, a visit to a green area, and bookmaking using the writing process and peer feedback.


Grades   2 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Writing Acrostic Poems with Thematically Related Texts in the Content Areas

Students read thematically related texts, scaffolded from simple to complex, to help them gather necessary concept vocabulary and background knowledge in a content area. They then write acrostic poems to organize and present their learning in a creative way.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan

Using Collaborative Reasoning to Support Critical Thinking

Students will participate in Collaborative Reasoning in small groups to discuss and think critically about issues of social justice and diversity by reading current events informational articles.