6 Elementary Reading Strategies That Really Work

Strategies such as choral and ear reading increase students’ fluency in reading, expand their vocabulary and boost their confidence.

It is important to learn how to read in order for students and teachers alike. All subjects require students to be able read, comment, and comprehend texts and assignments.

We looked through our archives to find strategies that would help students develop reading confidence and strong reading skills.


There are better options than round-robin or popcorn reading. Todd Finley, an English education professor, says that it is not beneficial for students to have poor pronunciation and fluency. Asking students to read aloud to the class in front of them can be stigmatizing.

Choral reading, when the teacher and the class read aloud a text together, takes the spotlight off struggling readers and encourages them to take part. Studies have shown that it increases reading fluency, vocabulary expansion, and students’ confidence.

Another low-stakes strategy that is supported by research is partner reading. The students read aloud a text together and then take on the role of the listener. To ensure that the reader understands the text, the listener asks probing question. The stronger reader will read the text aloud first, which helps struggling readers. According to a 2007 study, this form of peer monitoring helps improve reading fluency.


Reading together between students in the upper and lower grades has both academic and social benefits. The mentoring relationship provides one-on-one attention and helps the children to read fluently. Upper elementary students learn through answering questions and developing critical skills such as empathy and patience. For older children who struggle with grade level reading, this experience gives them the opportunity to read simpler texts without shame and increases their confidence through taking on leadership roles.

Students can meet for 30 minutes at least once per month. To increase engagement, first let the younger students pick the books. Later, older students can share their favourite reads. As their skills improve, the younger children can begin to read, rather than just listening.


Earreading is a great way to learn . It’s a good idea for all students (at least occasionally), but it’s especially beneficial for dyslexic students and struggling readers. A 2010 study found that students with dyslexia who listened audiobooks had significant improvements in their reading skills, behavior, school performance, motivation, and involvement at school. Learning Ally is a non-profit that supports struggling readers in K-12. They offer audiobooks and textbooks written by human beings. OverDrive and Bookshare provide audiobooks. Audible is also available.

While earreading is a great strategy to support students with dyslexia it does not replace explicit, step by step phonics-based instruction. This is also known as Structured Literacy. It remains one of the most successful reading strategies for students suffering from the condition. Structured literacy emphasizes phonemic and phonological awareness as well as comprehension.


The Institute of Education Sciences released a 2014 report that examined how teaching academic English -general and specific vocabulary for a subject or unit–empowers students to better understand the content, especially English language learners (ELLs). Teaching vocabulary can be done by creating skits, making physical gestures for difficult words and combining challenging language with images.

To be successful readers, students need to know more than just vocabulary. Formative assessments are important for supporting ELLs who now account for almost 10% of all K-12 students in the United States. Check in with students in kindergarten and the first grade to evaluate their understanding of the alphabet as well as their ability to pronounce words. Second through fifth graders should be able to read with accuracy, expression and pace. It is possible to evaluate students by having them walk around the room and have them read together in pairs. You can also ask them to talk about what they read to measure their comprehension.


Students will be more engaged if they are able to select what they want to read. While a child may not want to read The Boxcar Children, she might be keen to pick up Hansel & Gretel & Zombies Graphic Novel when she returns home. Your expectations should not be lowered by giving students the option. You can allow your students to choose books that they don’t find challenging, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your expectations. You can offer them options that are both challenging and interesting, or you can rotate between whole-class and choice books.

A varied classroom library is essential for students to ensure that their bookshelves are filled with stories that interest them. Meredith Kimi Lewis is a Seattle Public Schools K-5 Program Specialist. She suggests asking your students to tell you what books they would like to read and in what categories.


Fluency-oriented reading instruction (FORI)–when students read the same text multiple times over the course of a week as a class, in pairs, and alone, for example–significantly improved word pronunciation and reading comprehension for a diverse group of second graders, according to a 2010 study.

Concourse Village Elementary School in New York, which is composed of predominantly Latinx and African-American students from the poorest congressional district, has outscored the citywide average in reading scores by as much as 40 points on the English state exam. The school’s five-step reading strategy , which is one of many approaches used by the school, also emphasizes repeated exposure to the same text in various modalities. Over the course of a week students echo and choral read the exact same text. Each day they work on a different skill, such as identifying the main points, annotating key details, drawing conclusions, and identifying key points.