Shared Reading

Readtopia© Shared Reading lessons at the Upper Elementary and All Emergent unit levels are designed as a whole multi-level group lesson to engage readers (Emergent through Conventional levels working together) in interactions while reading together with an adult. The focus is on reading with students — not to them. The goal is to guide students in leading the interactions and making meaning as they read together with a knowledgeable adult.

Using two research-based strategies, Shared Reading lessons provide the instructional guidance and support that help you to teach Upper Elementary and All Emergent students reading at all levels to engage with text in ways needed to eventually read and/or listen with comprehension. Scripted interactions for each page of the graphic novel help you model appropriate and effective communication with students presenting with a wide range of needs and abilities. These interactions are designed to build:

  • Emergent literacy understandings
  • Expressive and receptive communication skills
  • Understanding and concepts of print

Through reading and interacting with students around engaging content during shared reading, you will demonstrate how to make meaning from print. And you’ll show students that reading a good story is fun and entertaining!


Shared Reading lessons are explicitly designed to be used with a specific graphic novel reading level. So, which graphic novel level is used for Shared Reading lessons at each thematic unit level?

  Graphic Novel Level
All Emergent Units Emergent Level 1
Upper Elementary Units Emergent Level 2

Shared Reading English Language Arts Objectives

Engage in collaborative interactions about text.

  • Identify details in a text that is read aloud.
  • Build reading / listening comprehension skills including:
    ○ Important background knowledge
    ○ Emergent literacy understandings
    ○ Expressive and receptive communication skills
    ○ Understanding and concepts of print.

Readtopia Shared Reading Lessons Model Effective Instruction

Shared Reading scripts tell you exactly what to say and do while reading every page of the anchor literature graphic novel at the appropriate level for each Upper Elementary and All Emergent unit. An example of student/adult interactions related to the scripts provide examples of effective expressive communication experiences using both verbal and nonverbal responses.

A Story of Survival shared reading example
Shared Reading

Shared Reading Strategies

CAR Strategy CROWD Strategy
The CAR shared reading strategy provides a structure that guides readers, encouraging engagement and interaction with a story while building, supporting, and modeling communication skills. CAR is appropriate for readers in the earliest stages of symbolic communication and print awareness, who may or may not show interest and enjoyment during shared reading. As students begin to initiate meaningful communication and interact during shared reading, the CROWD strategy is added to the CAR. CROWD questions and comments, following the CAR structure of interaction, guide students in more sophisticated communications and interactions through the use of one of these five structures:
In short, the CAR strategy begins by reading the text on a page and then: Completion: Students are asked to complete a sentence presented by the teacher. — [The ship has everything the Robinsons need. They have ____________________.]
( C ) COMMENT | make a simple comment about the text or illustration. Recall: Students are asked to tell about things that have been read. — [The Robinsons plan to do two things in Australia. What do they plan to do?]
WAIT 5 or more seconds to give the students a chance to make a comment. Open-Ended: Students are asked questions that don’t have a specific answer. Students draw on their background knowledge to tell about story illustrations and / or vocabulary. — [I wonder why there are farm animals on the ship?]
( A ) ASK | if students do not make their own comments, explicitly ask them to participate. Wh— Questions: Students are asked to respond to direct wh- questions. — [Who is on the ship? (Point to the people on the ship.)]
WAIT 5 or more seconds to give the students a chance to make a comment. Distancing: Students are guided in connecting something in the book to their personal experience. — [William will tell us what happens. He will tell us the story of the Swiss Family Robinson. What kinds of stories do you like to tell?]
( R ) RESPOND | watch students carefully and repeat or attribute meaning to any communication act. Then, respond by adding a little more.  
  Teacher Tip

It is important to pause for at least 5 seconds after each comment and / or question in order to allow students enough time to process the language and construct an answer or initiate a new comment or question.

Watch Dr. Allison Dennis explain how to put a CROWD in the CAR during Shared Reading

Encourage, Model, and Build Effective Communication Skills During Shared Reading

During shared reading, be sure to do the following:

  • encourage all modalities of expressive communication
  • follow students’ interests
  • attribute meaning to all attempts: purposeful or random
  • encourage the student to touch and interact with the book
  • make connections between book and students’ experiences
  • think aloud to model thought processes
  • model using student’s communication system (Hi-tech and/or Lo-tech Augmentative & Alternative Communication – AAC)
  • uses objects to sustain attention, interest and help students make connections.


Use free Communication Boards to model and support participation by your AAC users. Some good resources include:

Readtopia Lesson Pix Communication Supports
(Readtopia Resources > Communication Supports > Lesson Pix)

Project Core (General Vocabulary)

Thematic Units