Science of Reading

Let's Practice Repeated Reading Strategy!

6 Min Read
WF1791680 hero teacher and students clapping

As a former soccer coach and current learner of the ukulele, I know there are certain repeated actions that lead to improvement. And as a former teacher, I know repeated reading (RR) improves both foundational skills and comprehension. Reading science is at the forefront of how developers and writers here at HMH plan for and instruct our students to become capable and confident readers. Repeated reading deserves our attention as it’s both evidence-based and efficient. We know from experience in many fields that repetition promotes skill development. Let’s revisit repeated reading, its benefits, and some how-tos for providing students with the opportunity to read texts again and again.

What Is Repeated Reading?

Repeated reading almost defines itself. This strategy involves reading a specific text more than once. The evidence supporting repeated reading reveals that there are positive outcomes for fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension specifically. The efficiency of the strategy is derived from the fact that it uses texts already available in the classroom. Students may practice independently or as part of a whole-class effort when they’re reading quietly to themselves.

What Are the Benefits of Repeated Reading?

This evidence-based and efficient reading strategy benefits students throughout the grades, and indeed it can become an important learning skill for life. Even college students get good results from reading content more than once. Here are the benefits of repeated reading to be realized during the K–8 experience and set students on a lifelong learning journey:

  • Fluency Development: Fluency, the ability to read accurately and smoothly with expression, is often referred to as the bridge to comprehension. Repeated reading for fluency can be achieved because students who read a text more than once become more familiar with the text structure and meaning. Often, a first reading may be more hesitant as students become familiar with the gist of the text. Sometimes you need to start slowly so the next time you can go with the flow!
  • Phonics Skills: Phonics is “a method of teaching beginners to read and pronounce words by learning the phonetic value of letters, letter groups, and especially syllables.” It is essential to learning to read as children are taught to connect sounds with letters in the alphabetic system. RR encourages students to read words over and over again which can help with pronunciation and understanding. Repetition and review are key to practicing decoding skills, and we know practice makes permanent. (Did you see that coming?)
  • Vocabulary and Comprehension: Fluent and accurate reading of texts provides more cognitive space for understanding what is being read. When reading words becomes automatic, students have the opportunity to focus on making meaning. Vocabulary knowledge is critical to making meaning from text, and the repetition helps new words stick. Students retain more from repeated readings and understand better.
  • Expression: You are not a robot, and you don’t want to read like one either. Reading with expression improves understanding not only when reading aloud but also when reading silently. Indeed, since we mostly read to ourselves, we need to focus on intonation and text features in our head.

Repeated Reading Fluency

A special shout out to repeated reading fluency. It's a huge benefit of RR and an important and crucial skill for students on their way to comprehension. When student achieve fluency their reading confidence builds.

Repeated-Reading Examples: How Do We Put RR into Action in Our Classrooms?

This is the fun part! Text selection is an important part of the process when using repeated reading to grow competent readers, so all of these repeated-reading examples critically consider the texts being used and are readily available in classrooms.

Echo Reading

One way to practice repeated-reading passages is to try echo reading. To conduct echo reading, you or another fluent adult reader should read a sentence or passage first, modeling phrasing, pauses, and expression; then children should read the passage the same way. This can be repeated until children sound fluent. Echo reading is a fun activity for both individuals and small groups.

Decodables are the Études of Reading

This is an idea that came to me during my first year as a first grade teacher. Decodables are texts made up of words carefully sequenced to match the learning progression of the sounds and letters being taught to beginning readers. We had texts that would teach the lesson, but they were not engaging. I implemented slight edits and made decodable texts using the resources offered and the names of my students like “Dan ran.“ I was very fortunate to have a Dan in my class because of where his name being decodable was in our scope and sequence!

Just like études are designed to practice music, decodable texts are designed to practice reading. And we can’t forget about the relationship between practice and permanency. Indeed, I’m a published writer of decodables and it brings me great joy when a book I wrote is the first one read by a student. These books are meant to be read again and again and I and others work hard to make them both engaging and efficacious. A simple way to encourage repeated reading of decodables is to have students use a sticker, stamp, or marker to indicate number of times read.

“The Play’s the Thing.”

Perhaps Shakespeare would be amused that this quote has inspired RR activities. Plays, especially in the early grades, have many parts and short passages. Play practice is a meaningful way to read text over and over again. When students are younger, they tend to read from a printed script from the first “table read” all the way to the performance. This is such a purposeful and real-world way of reading on repeat.

A Passion for Poetry

Poems are particularly well-suited to rereading. You enhance skills in both expressiveness and in understanding each time you read. As poems get longer, the rereads can focus on verses. Poems are also good for in-class sharing as performances.

Repeated-Reading Passages

Repeated-reading passages are intended to help children learn about and practice proper phrasing and expression. Students can physically mark the text to indicate pauses and natural word groupings, and this provides visual reinforcement. You can use texts that you already have in your classroom and have students reread them together.

Oral Fluency Assessment and Timed Repeated Reading

Most classrooms have passages to be used for an oral fluency assessment. Getting ready for the assessments can involve repeated oral reading and in effect serve as repeated reading practice. Using passages similar in length and text features to prepare for the assessment can be fun! Keep younger students focused by readying a short passage, then having them take turns reading it to a partner and giving feedback to each other. With older students, I find they do well working independently with stopwatches. They understand it’s not a race and that timed repeated reading is something where a few seconds indicates improvement, and so they keep their own records.

With this practice, focus on reading at an appropriate rate and with expression. Teacher guidance is a crucial part of repeated reading. Provide students with adequate time to practice—at least 15 minutes a day—and model the reading of passages with them.

Repeated Reading as an Intervention

Repeated reading can be an intervention for kids who are striving readers. Students may need more time with passages for full comprehension. Plus, teachers can use the extra time with material to keep students engaged. Read 180 has a special focus on fluency and can help students with any barriers they might have as they progress to grade-level reading comprehension.


In summary, repeated reading is both efficient and efficacious. The more students interact with text, the more fluency increases and comprehension improves. In this sense, it can help your students achieve fluency!

There are many reasons to reread and ways to do so. Do you have ways to foster repeated reading in your classroom? Share your strategies with us on Facebook, Instagram, or via email at


HMH core, intervention, and supplemental programs are rooted in the science of reading. Find out more about our evidence-based approach to teaching a child to read.

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