Reciprocal Reading

Reciprocal Reading is an effective and proven approach to developing reading and comprehension.  As an intervention programme it is particularly effective with children who can decode but do not fully understand what they read. However the reciprocal reading approach and strategies are also very helpful for shared reading and, particularly, guided reading. 

Reciprocal Reading was developed in New Zealand in the 1980s.  Although it is known and promoted as a successful approach to reading, it has never been extensively adopted in this country.

Reciprocal Reading

will help children who:

  • Can read but struggle to understand
  • Can’t explain their understanding to others
  • Read very slowly because they are focusing on accurate decoding so never get the flow of the text nor grasp its meaning
  • Read too fast and don’t pay attention to what they are reading
  • Only read for plot events not the details within the writing
  • Lack confidence when reading new or unfamiliar texts
  • Have a limited reading repertoire – who read only very undemanding texts or only texts by the same author for example
  • Have impaired understanding through limited understanding of vocabulary
  • Read text avidly but never question the meaning of words or what they have just read
  • Find it difficult to cope with specialist texts from different curriculum areas


The training involves:

  • Identifying the challenges in comprehension
  • Using reciprocal reading strategies at an adult level
  • Applying the strategies with children
  • Advice on texts to use and practical issues
  • Materials to support teaching and learning

Evidence of Impact

From our Middlesbrough intervention pilot we have evidence of how a 10 week programme can improve children’s reading accuracy by 13 months and their comprehension age by 16 months.  And just as importantly, we hear of children reading with more enjoyment and enthusiasm.  Many schools tell us that it has revolutionised the way that they teach reading, particularly at Key Stage 2!  Greg Brooks comments on the ‘remarkable’ impact of reciprocal reading in his 2013 edition of ‘What works for children and young people with literacy difficulties.

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