The Reading Dialogue: Reciprocal Reading Strategy
The Reading Dialogue: Reciprocal Reading Strategy for Primary Schools

How it works

Developing and improving reading comprehension in Primary Schools.

How it works

Reading Dialogue is a structured approach to teaching reading strategies (questioning, clarifying, summarising and predicting) that children in KS2 can use to improve their reading comprehension. The aim is to help teachers to actively teach understanding when reading.  

It is therefore an interactive teaching strategy in which both teacher and student assume the role of teacher.  

Central to the programme is that children think of their own questions to discuss with their peers. This helps them to check their own understanding of what they have encountered.

Reading Dialogue - Reciprocal Reading Programme will help 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

  • Only read for plot events not the details within the writing

  • Lack confidence when reading new or unfamiliar texts

  • Have impaired understanding through limited understanding of vocabulary

  • Read text avidly 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


The 4 stages

  • Predicting: thinking about what is coming next using picture clues and previous knowledge.

  • Clarifying: identifying and explaining the meaning of words, phrases and ideas that the children didn’t understand.

  • Questioning: using a range of questions to enhance understanding (on the line, between the lines, beyond the text).

  • Summarising: integrating important information from the text read.



  • Reading Dialogue is a group approach to reading so it is ideal to use in class.

  • A set half an hour sessions five/four or minimum three days per week across the school.

  • Five Groups in each class (groups must be organised by reading ability).

  • Five day cycle of activities ( every group completes each activity and reads with the teacher once a week). Read programme can be adapted to use in three or four day cycle of activities.

Environment and resources

  • Children will need to work at table groups for Reciprocal Teaching. On day 1 children choose the leader. On day 3 children work with the teacher.  Children on Days 2,4 and 5 work independently

  • Each group needs 6 copies of fiction and nonfiction books ( similar to the Guided Reading strategy)

  • All prompt sheets and worksheets are provided.

Contact us

Please don't hesitate to contact us with any queries or questions or to learn more about the strategy and how it can help you help your students in achieving their goals.


Training for schools, Professional Development days

The Reading Dialogue training is relevant to all staff working on reading at Key Stage 2  and also for teachers and teaching assistants working in year 2.

It will prepare teachers to using the approach by considering:

  • the issues involved in teaching comprehension

  • the effectiveness of reciprocal reading - and why

  • planning and preparing a text to use with children

  • the practical issues involved in running Reading Dialogue in class

  • suggestions for using worksheets and organisation

It may not be a training priority for Foundation Stage and Year 1 staff, although interestingly the strategies have been used successfully with young children.

The training can be adapted, with sufficient notice, to a school's particular priorities and needs and indeed to the resources that they have available. We would be able to work within and make reference to the school's existing system of assessing reading for example.

The training can include visits to monitor the quality of delivery, pupils work in folders, surgery for teachers and further actions.



  • Handbook for primary school teachers outlining the strategy

  • A range of worksheets and prompts to help the children to develop and improve reading comprehension

  • A range of resources to help the teachers to deliver the programme


“This strategy is a logical and straightforward one to deliver, taking much less organising than many other programmes. After a single hour training staff were ready to start. The resources were a great starting point and meant that we could get up and running straight away.”

Alexandra A.
Headteacher Sir John Cass’s Foundation Primary School


Recent data

Princess Frederica CE VA Primary School

Interim HT   since 2015 - B.Simpson
Read Reciprocal Reading implemented in October 2015
In 2018 the school was placed as number 1 out of 81 schools, on Brent Schools Comparison table for the Highest Average Score in Reading - 111




Attainment data
2015/16   81% achieving the Expected Standard            
2016/17      91% achieving the Expected Standard
2017/18 95% achieving the Expected Standard

2015/16             40% achieving Greater Depth
2016/17            61% achieving Greater Depth  
2017/18 64% achieving Greater Depth   

Average scaled scores
2015/16 106.6
2016/17 110
2017/18      111

Progress data
2015/16 3.5 Well Above Average
2016/17       4.4 Well Above Average
2017/18        3.5 Well Above Average