“The focus is on interaction and meaning making. Teachers read with students not to students.
The goal is for the student to lead the interactions during shared reading.
– Karen Erickson & David Koppenhaver

What is shared reading? ​

Shared reading is an evidence-based instructional approach. The focus during shared reading is on the interaction and meaning making that occurs when a child and adult look at or read a book together. Shared reading would benefit any emergent reader, no matter their age and can be done individually or in small groups.

During shared reading the adult reader:
  • encourages communication
  • follows students’ interests
  • attributes meaning to all attempts: purposeful or random
  • encourages the student to touch and interact with the book
  • makes connections between book and students experiences
  • thinks aloud to model thought processes
  • models using student’s communication system
  • uses objects to sustain attention, interest and help students make connections.

Which students would benefit from shared reading? ​

Students who:
  • are interested in books but can’t yet read them independently.
  • are not yet interested in reading books.
  • have not yet developed intentional or symbolic means of communication.
  • can read but need continued support making meaning from text.
  • are emergent readers learning what reading is and how books work.

*Conventional readers continue to benefit from opportunities to engage in shared reading.

How can students benefit from shared reading? ​

Shared reading:
  • builds emergent literacy understandings
  • builds expressive and receptive communication skills and understandings
  • builds critical background knowledge
  • develops concepts about print
  • demonstrates how meaning is made from print
  • demonstrates reading as a fun and enjoyable activity

How can we teach shared reading? ​

During shared reading:
  • the focus is on interaction and making meaning
  • teachers read with, not to students
  • the goal is for the students to lead interactions
  • teachers begin by guiding students, encouraging engagement and interaction, and supporting communication

Role of the “More Knowledgeable Other” in shared reading is to:
  • encourage communication at ALL times
  • respond to any form of communication and attribute meaning
  • connect content of the book to the personal knowledge and experience of the student
  • model use of student AAC systems
  • select books carefully


Follow the CAR and Put the CROWD in the CAR are both approaches to structuring shared reading interactions:


Crowd in the Car PDF
Big Kids Crowd in the Car PDF
follow-the-car-guidelines PDF

Follow the C.A.R.

C.A.R. is a strategy to structure shared reading interactions.

  • Lead with a COMMENT
    • Stop and wait 5+ seconds
  • Ask a QUESTION
    • Stop and wait 5+ seconds
  • RESPOND by adding more

 Put the CROWD in the CAR

  • Completion- leave a blank at the end of a sentence, students fill it in, typically used in books with repetitive phrases, rhyme
  • Recall- questions about what just happened
  • Open- Ended- questions that do not have a specific answer, “Tell me what’s happening in this picture.”
  • Wh-Questions- typically focus on pictures, “What does that man have?”
  • Distance- Questions that build a bridge between the book and personal experience, “There were farm animals in the book. What farm animals did you see at the farm?”

Where can I learn more? ​

Shared Reading Versus Guided Reading for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities: What’s the Difference?
Penelope Hatch, Ph.D., CCC-SLP Marlene Cummings, MS, CCC-SLP Karen Erickson, Ph.D

Shared Reading – Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM)
This module describes shared reading, a reading approach that emphasizes interaction and engagement with books. In the DLM assessment, students frequently engage in a shared reading of a text before rereading a text to respond to questions.
Online Self-Directed Module
Facilitated Module Materials for Groups