Learning Resources

St. Ninian's Primary School Shared Reading Case Study

At St. Ninian’s Primary School, South Ayrshire, our Primary 1/2 and Primary 7 classes have enjoyed taking part in a Shared Reading project. The aim of this project was to increase pupils’ enjoyment in reading. Pairing the P1/2s and the P7s really allowed the younger pupils to form relationships with the older pupils, whilst allowing the older pupils to develop their reading and questioning skills.

Getting Started

Pupils reading
The project was kicked off by a visit to Primary 7 from The Drama Box, which was organised by Scottish Book Trust. The drama specialist encouraged the P7s to think about how to use their voices when reading aloud, in order to bring the stories to life for the younger children. The P7s engaged really well with this session and enjoyed participating in a variety of games and activities that really encouraged them to be creative and expressive when reading.

Prior to working with the younger pupils, the P7s spent a number of weeks preparing for their shared reading responsibilities. These sessions focused on developing P7s skills in reading aloud, questioning, prediction and summarising.

The final session with the P7s was spent exploring the picture books that the older pupils would read to their buddies throughout the project. Scottish Book Trust very kindly sent us a pack of three of the best picture books in Scotland: Little Owl’s Egg, The Fourth Bonniest Baby in Dundee and Gorilla Loves Vanilla. The older pupils responded really well to the books, and really enjoyed when the books were read to them! After getting a chance to explore the books, the P7s came up with a variety of activities to carry out with the younger pupils during the shared reading sessions. These activities focused on developing the younger pupils’ understanding of the stories through retelling.

Shared Reading Sessions

Shared reading in action
Throughout the following weeks, the older and younger pupils came together to share the stories and complete the retelling activities. It was really enjoyable to see the pupils working together, and the P7s thrived under the responsibility of being role models for their younger buddies. It has been heart-warming to see the pupils interacting with their buddies at playtimes and lunchtimes also! Both sets of pupils looked forward to the shared reading sessions and have really enjoyed spending time reading together and chatting about the books.

We were also visited by Scottish Book Trust for one of our sessions, which the pupils were very excited about! The pupils loved being able to share their thoughts and ideas with others and were delighted to be presented with a collection of over 20 picture books to add to our shared reading library!

Parental Involvement

Shared reading in action
As well as the older and younger pupils working together, Primary 1/2 have been inviting parents in for regular parent and child reading sessions in the classroom. We have had a really positive response from parents, and these sessions have been well-attended.

The sessions are relaxed, and both parents and pupils have enjoyed choosing and reading books together. The pupils love seeing their parents read to others and enjoy starting their day with a story. It has been exciting to see the pupils’ confidence developing throughout these sessions – some pupils are even beginning to swap roles and read to the parents!


The outcomes of this project have been overwhelmingly positive for everybody involved. The older pupils have developed their confidence in reading aloud and using the picture books really encouraged some of the more reluctant readers to participate. Prior to beginning the project, almost all of the Primary 7s said they did not read picture books for a variety of reasons, with many believing that they were too ‘babyish’ or ‘boring’. However, since beginning the project, many of the older pupils have really changed their view of picture books, commenting:

I found the last few weeks really fun, especially when we read the books!"

“My favourite part has been seeing all of the picture books suitable for the younger pupils.”

“I enjoyed working on the picture books.”


Shared reading in action
This project has certainly shown some of the more reluctant readers across both stages that reading does not have to be ‘boring’ or ‘hard work’, and we have certainly noticed pupils beginning to see that reading is enjoyable. Furthermore, it was really exciting to see how well the children worked together. Taylor in P7 said, “I like that my buddy put a lot of effort in, and she wasn’t afraid to have a conversation with me”, whilst another pupil commented “I liked how excited my buddy was to be here.”

The Primary 1/2 pupils were very enthusiastic about the sessions and have enjoyed developing their relationships with the older pupils. Many of the younger pupils commented that their favourite part was just being with their P7 reading buddy. The younger pupils have benefitted from answering Bloom’s questions with their buddies and are more readily asking and answering questions about books in the classroom. 

From a teacher’s perspective, I hope to continue to set up regular shared reading sessions using the picture books we have received from Scottish Book Trust. This project has truly transformed my own personal views of using picture books in the classroom, and it is certainly something that I hope to utilise throughout my own teaching!