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Choral Reading

Choral reading is reading aloud in unison with a whole class or group of students. After hearing the teacher read and discuss a selection, students reread the text together. Choral reading helps build students' fluency, self-confidence, vocabulary knowledge, motivation, and enjoyment of literature. Reading and rereading shared texts may have the additional benefit of building a sense of community in the classroom.

How Choral Reading Can Foster Fluency in Struggling Readers

Choral reading provides support for students who may ordinarily feel self-conscious or nervous about reading aloud in class. Reading along with more fluent readers enables less proficient readers to be successful with a shared text. Choral reading may provide the support necessary to encourage struggling readers to take risks and build their confidence. When students participate in choral reading on a regular and repeated basis, students will internalize the fluent reading of the text being read and begin to transfer their developing fluency to other texts.

Choosing Texts for Choral Reading

Almost any text can be read chorally. Shorter texts with rhythm and distinct parts often work best. Using community texts can help build school spirit, classroom community, or civic consciousness.

Poetry (see Poetry page for more ideas)

  • Poems by Newbery Medal Winner Paul Fleischman, such as
    • Joyful Noises: Poems for Two Voices (HarperTrophy, 1992)
    • Big Talk: Poems for Four Voices (Candlewick, 2000)
    • I am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices (HarperTrophy, 1989)

Books with rhyme, rhythm, and repeated phrases

  • Favorite rhymes and songs, such as
    • The Itsy Bitsy Spider
    • Five Little Pumpkins
    • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
    • Peter Cottontail
  • Predictable text, such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear


Texts with community value

  • School song
  • The Pledge of Allegiance
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech

Types of choral reading (adapted from The Fluent Reader by Timothy Rasinski)

Antiphonal -- Divide the group into groups and assign parts of the text to each group. Give students an opportunity to practice how they will read before bringing them back together to chorally read together.

Dialogue -- Select a text that contains different speaking parts. Assign the part of the narrator to one group and each character to other groups.

Cumulative Choral Reading -- The number of students reading gradually builds as the text is read. An individual or small group reads the first line or section of a passage, and then they are joined by another group. By the end of the passage, the whole group is reading. (This can also be done in reverse, starting with whole group and ending with just one person or group.)

Impromptu Choral Reading -- As a text is read, students join in or fade out as they choose. Some students may choose to highlight certain words or sections of the text, read every other line, or the whole selection. Students choose ahead of time what section(s) of the text they will read. (If no one selects a section, someone usually jumps in!)

If you like these ideas, Rasinski includes more ideas for choral reading in his booksThe Fluent Reader and Goodbye Round Robin.

What it Looks Like

A Poem to Read, A Song to Sing

Laura Garrett's 2nd graders begin each day with a poem and a song. She introduces a new poem and song each Monday, and the students love rereading and singing the songs throughout the week. She often coordinates poems or songs with science, social studies, or author study units.

Teacher Tips

How do you use choral reading in your class? Submit your ideas here!

Resources and Links


Choral Reading Method -- Includes suggestions for selecting text for choral reading, as well as some strategies for using this with your class.

Choral Poetry - Writing choral poetry lesson plan. Includes samples of choral poetry

Using Poetry to Teach Reading -- Includes teaching and management tips, plus a nice collection of poetry-related links.


Joyful Noises: Creating Poems for Voices and Ears by Laura Apol and Jodi Harris. Language Arts, Vol. 76, Iss. 4, pp. 314-323. www.ncte.org

Discusses the efforts of a fifth-grade teacher and a visiting poet to rekindle students' sense of poetic passion and pleasure. Describes how the authors introduced students to poems for two voices (using P. Fleischman's "Joyful Noise"). The poetry unit culminated in a project in which students read and performed Fleischman's poems, then wrote and performed their own poems for two voices.

Using Choral Reading to Promote Language Learning for ESL Students by Joyce K. McCauley & Daniel S. McCauley. Reading Teacher, Vol. 45 Issue 7, p526-533. www.reading.org

Examines the benefits of choral readings as they relate to language acquisition in general. Factors that promote second language acquisition; The role that choral reading plays in enhancing children's progress; Implementing choral reading; Poem suggestions; Research results.


Cunningham, P. (2005) Phonics they use: Words for reading and writing. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Rasinski, T. V. (2003). The fluent reader: Oral reading strategies for building word recognition, fluency, and comprehension. New York: Scholastic.

Rasinski, T. V. & Padak, N. (2004). Effective reading strategies: Teaching children who find reading difficult (3rd ed.). Columbus, OH: Pearson.

Strickland, D. S., Ganske, K., & Monroe, J. K. (2002). Supporting struggling readers and writers: Strategies for classroom intervention 3-6. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.