The Role of Oral Reading

There is good evidence that in order to build fluency, children need to engage in reading large amounts of meaningful text (Anderson et al., 1988; Taylor et al.,1990). Many young children enjoy reading aloud and can practice with a partner or in small groups to achieve greater fluency (Anderson et al., 1985).

As children begin reading longer stories, it may be too time-consuming for them to read whole selections orally. With older students a primary function of oral reading should be to defend positions that they take in discussions about the selections they have read; they read aloud to prove points.

Children at all grade levels can be encouraged to read aloud sections from books they are reading independently. As they read to peers, groups of classmates, or the whole class, they advertise the book and encourage others to read it (Allington, 1984; Anderson et al., 1985).

Oral reading also serves as a very valuable source of assessment information for teachers and for students themselves. As they read aloud, students become aware of any word identification problems and look for ways to correct them. By listening to a student's oral reading, a teacher can gain valuable insights into the student's word identification strategies and the degree of that student's fluency.

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