Reading Fluency Strategies

The following strategies and activities are designed to achieve two primary goals:

1. To help children read words accurately and effortlessly.

2. To help children read with appropriate rates of reading fluency. Katie and I frequently discuss the keys that allow us to help many new or struggling readers achieve the above goals. From our experience, we both agree the creation of fluent readers is dependent on two instructional ingredients (it is also nice to know our conclusions are backed by research as well).

Readers become fluent from:

  • Explicit instruction, feedback & guidance AND
  • Practicing with appropriate textsFor detailed knowledge on reading fluency itself we recommend  the following information: Click here to download Fluency Tasks, Texts, and Teaching

Reading Fluency Strategies

Repeated Reading

Repeated reading means that students read the same reading passages or texts repeatedly until a desired level of reading fluency is achieved. Katie and I both incorporate this specific reading fluency strategy almost daily into our reading instruction.

A version of the method of repeated reading we often use is as follows:

  • An adult chooses a passage to read that is slightly above the child’s instructional level but still one that will promote student success. Out of grade-level materials may be used for a child reading significantly below grade level. A reading passage or excerpt with approximately 100 words is desirable although different lengths can be used depending on the reader.
  • The child reads the passage aloud, while the adult times him or her using a stopwatch for a specific amount of time (usually one minute). Some choose to make an audiotape recording of the child’s reading. As the child reads, the adult marks all of the words read incorrectly. If a child gets stuck on a word the adult gives them the word after 5 seconds.
  • When the time is up the student or adult marks where they stopped. The adult reviews the miscues with the child, using the audiotape or discussion and counts the number of words the child read correctly. This number is the goal to beat on the next reading! Our students love to graph the number of words they read correctly each time. Plus, it helps build math skills!
  • The child rereads the same passage for the same amount of time and the adult marks the child’s miscues again. Remember, the child is trying to read past their previous ending mark.
  • The child and adult continue Steps 3 and 4 until the child achieves a predetermined goal. This goal could be a predetermined number of words read correctly or a predetermined number of times the child has to beat their previous score. If the child does not significantly improve the number of words read correctly each try, the adult might want to discontinue and use an easier passage.
  • When the child can read a passage relatively fluently on the first reading, the adult provides a more difficult passage. It is important to progressively challenge the child so that reading improvement can be made.

           Click here to download a First Grade Words Correct Per Minute Graph

           Click here to download a Second Grade Words Correct Per Minute Graph

           Click here to download a Third Grade Words Correct Per Minute Graph

We've created a parent-friendly homework log to help your students practice reading fluency with repeated reading at home! Check it out, here:

Repeated Reading Homework Log


Repeated Reading (Group Version)

This version of repeated reading can be done individually or with both small groups and whole classes. Here is how to use this reading fluency strategy with more than one child:  

Children begin reading orally from multiple copies of the same text on cue. After 1 to 3 minutes, the teacher calls “time” and children mark where they stopped with a pencil. After the reading, the teacher or the children can bring up words that gave the children difficulty. The teacher then repeats the procedure two more times, with the children marking how far they got each time.

Here is another version of the repeated reading method commonly used:

  • An adult chooses a passage that is slightly above the child's instructional level.
  • The child reads the ENTIRE passage aloud (a using an excerpt around 100 words is desirable), while the adult times him or her using a stopwatch. The adult can choose to make an audiotape recording of the child’s reading. As the child reads, the adult marks any word that is not read correctly. The adult records the amount of time it took to read the passage.
  • The teacher reviews the miscues with the child, using the audiotape or discussion.
  • The child rereads the passage, and tries to beat their previous time while making less reading errors.
  • The child and adult continue Steps 3 and 4 until the child achieves a predetermined number of words read correctly per minute (number of words read correctly divided by time). If it takes more than seven tries to reach the goal, the adult might want to discontinue and use an easier passage. Repeated reading of a passage usually takes more than one teaching session. The adult charts each attempt.
  • The adult selects another passage at the same level. When the child can read a passage relatively fluently on the first reading, the teacher provides a more difficult passage. It is important to progressively challenge the child so that reading improvement can be made. Several variations to this strategy can be made to keep the task fun for kids. Just remember to provide corrective feedback and guidance and to choose appropriate texts. 

Paired Reading

In paired reading a capable reader and a struggling reader read in unison. The struggling reader indicates when they are ready to try reading alone. If the student makes an error, the capable reader provides the correct word. The pair then reads the sentence with that word in unison and continues reading. Different from repeated reading, Topping and Whitley (1987, 1990) found that paired reading can significantly improve reading fluency.

Ways Parents Can Improve Reading Fluency with Paired Reading

Rasinski (1995) describes how paired reading is used at home. Each night the parent reads a brief poem or passage to their child. This is followed by the parent and child reading the passage together several times. Then the child reads the text to the parent. 

A great book for this type of paired reading is You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Stories to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman. 

In his study, Rasinski found that children who engage in this form of paired reading demonstrated significant gains over children who received tutoring without this paired reading support. Parents, if you are paying for tutoring get more bang for your buck by using this practice at home with your child. Teachers and tutors, share this information with your parents to support your teaching efforts and help increase your students' reading fluency! 


Choral Reading

Choral reading (where groups of children read the same text aloud in unison) is one of our favorite reading fluency strategies. Because of its effectiveness, teachers should find ways to incorporate choral reading into their daily classroom instruction. Choral reading is great because it maximizes the amount of reading done per each child.  Compared to round robin reading the use of choral reading certainly results in more reading than one child reading one line or paragraph of text, one at a time. Katie and I rely heavily on repeated reading AND choral reading during our fluency instruction.  Struggling readers truly benefit from combining both approaches! We will choral read a poem or story several times and each time we read their confidence grows. 


Echo Reading

Echo reading is another favorite of ours because it allows children to practice proper phrasing and expression while building oral reading fluency. In echo reading, the teacher or parent reads one sentence or paragraph (length can vary) at a time while the student follows along in the text with their finger. Once the adult pauses, the student echoes back the same sentence or paragraph following along with their finger so that you can be sure the student is actually reading and not simply copying you. The guided practice and support of the echo reading structure instills confidence in students aiming to develop greater reading proficiencies. 

Parents, have a reluctant reader at home? Use this method as a way to get hesitant readers to practice with you at home. We have found that stubborn readers have a tendency to let their guard down when you practice with them using the echo reading method.

Teachers, share this method with your parents as a way to encourage structured reading practice at home!


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