Aiding Young People in Reading: Activities to Increase Fluency

As students begin to read, initial attempts at sounding out words takes time and practice. Stories and books eventually take on new meaning as students learn not just how to read basic words, but to comprehend the significance of what they are reading. Students who are fluent readers are those who can read text correctly and at a pace that is appropriate for their ages. The ability of a student to read fluently tests his overall capacity for reading comprehension.

Reading fluency is often assessed according to three different components. The rate that a student reads is how fast he can read the words at a pace that is fitting for his age or grade level. Accuracy means the student understands the words he is reading, while prosody is the use of expression and intonation while reading, which typically sounds similar to that used while speaking. Students who are not fluent readers may struggle with words and read at a slow pace; they may have difficulty in comprehending the meaning of sentences and so their reading becomes choppy and may lack expression.

Reading fluency is essential for students to understand what they are reading, as well as to develop skills for new words and sounds. Students may develop fluency through a variety of activities depending on grade level. For younger students who are new to reading, learning new words and working on vocabulary skills may be necessary through sounding out letters and practicing recognition of words. Students in higher grades may work to develop fluency through timed readings, reading with a partner or practice rereading text. Through many activities and exercises, students can develop fluency and learn to become good readers, enjoying the stories and accounts that books have to offer.

Some helpful activities for increasing fluency:

  • Book Finder: Search for books according to grade level, interest type and fiction or non-fiction. This site will retrieve a list of books based on readers’ interests that they can print and find at the library or bookstore.
  • Flashlight Readers: This interactive site is geared for kids who like books and want to learn more about popular stories. Clicking on each link leads to backgrounds, story summaries, photos and audio related to the selected book.
  • Learn to Read: Appropriate for early readers, this site lists several short books that focus on specific sounds. Readers incorporate the sounds into the words to learn words and phrases that they will see often through reading.
  • Power Proofreading: This site allows readers to proofread sections of text to practice recognizing common words and grammatical errors. Practice is available for students in grades 2 to 5.
  • Reading Comprehension: This online game requires reading and comprehension to follow the directions in the story. Each player uses the mouse to move objects according to what the story requires.
  • Reading Practice: A story book that students can use to practice reading either through partner reading, timed reading or independently. The pages can be turned online as part of the program. This story features The Callahan Cousins, but other stories are also available. It is appropriate for students in grades 3 to 5.
  • Reading Stories: This PBS site allows readers to click on a particular story and then follow along with the words and animation. Each word is highlighted to help the reader to recognize sounds and increase speed of reading.
  • Rhyming: Play Bingo with Wonder Red to practice rhyming words for better understanding of sounds. The end of the game results in a printable picture for students to keep.
  • Star Words: This British site features a game that allows players to match words and shapes. The goal is to practice recognition of common words and to increase fluency through understanding spelling of recurring words that readers will see in books and text.
  • Story Books: A list of several different stories for readers to click on. Each story opens in a new window and has animation, narration, and the student can read along with the highlighted words.
  • Timed Reading: A list of links to stories to read that will time how fast it takes to complete the passage. Each story opens in a new window and users click a button when they begin and again when they are finished. Readers then answer questions about the story they just read as part of comprehension. Appropriate for grades 3 to 5.
  • Title Comprehension: A printable worksheet for students to understand why they might choose a book according to its title. The worksheet offers questions to consider as to why a particular book has been selected as well as their overall feelings about the book. It is available in PDF format.
  • Tongue Twisters: A list of several different types of tongue twisters for students to practice reading and saying words. Designed for those who are learning to read and who need further practice picking out familiar words.
  • Toon Books: An interactive story that requires reading and clicking certain words to change the animation as the story goes. There is also an option to have the story read to listeners while watching the animation.
  • Word Lab: An online activity that involves putting letters together to form words. This is in a game format and allows users to practice building common words they will see while reading to gain fluency.