Reciprocal Reading

from FFT Literacy

FFT Literacy Reciprocal Reading

An effective and proven approach to developing reading and comprehension

What is it?

Reciprocal Reading is a structured, talk based approach to developing reading and comprehension — a kind of ‘talk for reading’. It supports children’s understanding of text by enabling them to discuss confusions and misunderstandings, but also promotes the use of some key reading comprehension strategies.


Who is Reciprocal Reading aimed at?

Reciprocal Reading can be used for whole class and group reading, for reading in different subjects and as an intervention programme. As an intervention it is particularly effective for children who can decode but do not fully understand what they read. It can also be used effectively with very able readers too.

Reciprocal reading will help children that:

Can read but struggle to understand
Can’t explain their understanding to others
Read very slowly because they are focusing on accurate decoding so struggle with flow and meaning
Read too fast and don’t pay attention to what they are reading
Only read for plot events, not details
Have a limited reading repertoire
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
Find it difficult to cope with specialist texts from different curriculum areas

Evidence of impact

Reciprocal Reading is widely used internationally. Following a successful UK trial funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), reciprocal reading has been identified by the EEF as a ‘promising project’ that directly improves children’s outcomes.
EEF logo
Our own analysis shows that a 10-week programme can improve children’s reading accuracy by 13 months and their comprehension by 16 months.

Reading accuracy

13 months

Reading comprehension

16 months

What schools are saying

Many schools tell us that it has revolutionised the way that they teach reading, particularly at Key Stage 2. Most importantly, we find children reading with more enjoyment and enthusiasm.

Target pupils are making extremely good progress with reciprocal reading because it has transformed their attitudes to themselves as readers… Pupils now seek out the teacher requesting reciprocal reading sessions

Headteacher at School

There is genuine excitement about the RR process as both a strategy for a whole class approach and as an intervention. Pupils have responded enthusiastically and have familiarised themselves quickly with the 4-step model.


Staff and pupils are very positive about the process. It has complemented the school’s approach to reading and helped to place the emphasis on oral contributions by pupils. This has had the effect of encouraging pupils to speculate, infer and challenge one another through dialogue.”

Co-Head Teacher

Both staff and pupils alike can see the benefits of using this interactive approach and pupils themselves are suggesting that they both enjoy and appreciate the approach: ‘…it gets us to speak more,’ and ‘…it helps us understand the books more,’ are two typical comments from pupils.”


FFT has trained more than


teachers and teaching assistants in the principles and practice of reciprocal reading.

Find out more about our Reciprocal Reading training programmes and how your school could benefit.

Book now or find out more