Changes in the teaching of reading during the past decade include a shift away from a previous emphasis on ‘one-to-one’ learning experiences to a focus upon more communal forms of learning which place the teacher center stage. With the teacher's role thus highlighted, teacher–pupil interaction in practice has come under the spotlight, with a number of studies raising concerns about the quality of teaching taking place and suggesting this is featuring more traditional patterns of ‘IRF’ exchanges between teachers and pupils, which are limiting to children's learning. This article reports on a small-scale study into teacher–pupil interaction styles during three Key Stage 1 ‘shared reading’ sessions – an activity in which teacher and children work together on an enlarged, illustrated text, with the teacher explicitly modeling components of the reading process to children. The article considers the more tacit modelling taking place during these sessions and how particular linguistic patterning used by teachers frames reading as an educational and cultural activity in ways that position children differentially in relation to it. In particular, it considers how variation in the use of the IRF exchange can mediate different cultural meanings about what it is to engage with text as a reader.