Broadway, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN7 4HX


Dunsville Primary School

Working as one to achieve excellence through enjoyment

Headteacher - Mrs V Wilson

Reciprocal Reading


At Dunsville Primary we use the Reciprocal Reading approach to support pupils to become fluent readers with good comprehension skills. In order to develop as fluent readers they need to be able to read quickly, accurately and with appropriate stress and intonation. It is important to understand pupil’s current capabilities and teach accordingly. All pupils will need an emphasis on developing this reading fluency, as well as the more basic skills of decoding which is covered by our Systematic Synthetic Phonics programme – Essential Letters and Sounds.

Why Reciprocal Reading?

Reciprocal Reading helps 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 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

What Reciprocal Reading looks like at Dunsville

A typical Reciprocal Reading session is taught as a whole class lesson around a high quality text that challenges pupils. There is an emphasis on discussion and reflection to develop higher order thinking skills. It is important to teach reading comprehension strategies through modelling and guided support. Reciprocal Reading can take place in any area of the curriculum to allow pupils to develop knowledge around a subject as well as strengthening their fluency and comprehension skills. Reciprocal Reading follows a cycle of the following strategies:

Activating prior knowledge

Reviewing prior reading. What do we already know about the story or subject matter? Is it a fiction or non-fiction text?


Predicting what they think will happen in this next section of the text. The use of sentence starters embeds this language and makes pupils think deeper about the skills they are employing.   “I predict that …… because…..”


Reading a small section of the text and clarifying vocabulary that children might not know. “I would like to clarify the word/phrase …..” This can be done through the use of dictionaries, picture clues or reading around the text.


Both the teacher and pupils asking questions about the text. These questions will focus on retrieval and inference. “I’m not sure I understand why….” “I would like to ask about ….”. We encourage the use of questions stems - who/what/where/which/when/why/how?


Children summarise what they have just read, drawing out the main points. They will reflect on their predictions from the beginning of the cycle and think about how this information will inform their next predictions.


Although Reciprocal Reading is a form of verbal comprehension, it does not take the place of written comprehension as this is a separate skill which the children will still need to develop. These opportunities are afforded by class teachers during the week, alongside support in the form of guided groups for those pupils that need to work on accurate decoding.

Take a look at some of our pupils in Reciprocal Reading lessons.