Amazing Strategies For Reading Aloud With Children
I can’t imagine how many read alouds I have done throughout my teaching career. I love them, not only for its literacy benefits but for the sense of community it brings to a classroom.
There are tremendous benefits to reading aloud to children of any age. It is a wonderful way for children to understand the connection between written text and spoken language. It also adds an extra level of engagement and introduces children to text they may not read independently.
Towards the end of this post you will find a selection of picture books I have used myself. There are also links to further resources I found online.
The Benefits of Reading Aloud
Below are some of the great benefits of read alouds.
- Share your favourite stories and enthusiasm for reading.
- Promote a love of reading.
- Model reading habits, strategies, reading fluency, tone and eye contact.
- Teach related mini-lessons.
- Introduce powerful and specific vocabulary to develop new knowledge and understandings.
- Make connections between text and illustrations.
- Encourage comprehension through prior knowledge, asking questions, making connections, predicting and inferring.
- Develop high level and critical thinking.
- Introduce or address significant issues, such as prejudice, bullying, diversity, identity, etc.
- Introduce different genres, authors and illustrators.
- Use challenging text to promote more complex ideas and vocabulary.
- Invite the involvement of struggling readers in enjoying the same text as the whole class.
- Encourage deeper comprehension through discussion, listening and responding to the thoughts of others.
- Develop ideas for independent writing including organisation, vocabulary and sentence fluency.
So now you know how great read alouds are let’s look at what we need to think about to carry one out successfully.
Planning and Strategies
A lot of thought goes into planning and delivering an effective read aloud. Here is a list of questions to help you focus on specific aspects.
- What is the theme or big idea you want to explore?
- Does the book provide opportunities for deep and critical thinking?
- Is any background knowledge necessary? Do you need to introduce any knowledge before sharing the books for the children to understand the text?
- Is the book diverse? How does the book relate to the children’s own background and culture?
- How long is the book? Will you need several days to finish the text?
- Is the book fiction or nonfiction?
- Does it relate to current events you can use for debates?
- Is it age appropriate? (characters, setting, time period, plot and the social and emotional level of children).
- Will the students enjoy the book?
- Is the text engaging and relevant for your purpose and instructional goal?
- How will you get students involved in the read aloud?
- What types of questioning does the text inspire? Think about explicit and implicit questions.
- Are there sections where you can stop for meaningful discussions or a mini-lesson?
- Is the vocabulary appropriate? Does any vocabulary need to be explicitly taught?
- Will the illustrations add to the telling of the story?
After planning a read aloud remember it should be fun as well as educational. Here are a few final thoughts before you get going!
- Think about the environment. As well as being comfortable, the students need to see the illustrations and have room for discussions.
- Can you share the pages of a book on a large screen? Children can engage with the illustrations and the text, further supporting their understanding.
- As you plan your read aloud think about when to pause. Will the pause lead to a discussion, new vocabulary or the modelling of strategies?
- How will the student discussions work? Think about if discussions will take the form of the whole class, in small groups or as pairs. What is your purpose and time limit for each discussion?
- Are you going to assess the student during the sessions? You can observe whether they pay attention, share opinions, use related vocabulary, ask for clarification and use modelled strategies independently.
- Add to engagement levels by adding expression to your reading.
- Choose a book with vocabulary above the year or grade level but not so much that they aren’t engaged in the story.
- Think about using wordless books to get the children involved in telling the story. Find out more about using wordless picture books here.
- Reading Rockets has a detailed post on choosing read aloud books for different age groups. It is definitely worth a look!
- Sadlier School has 23 read-aloud lessons you can download to get you started.
- If you are a parent and read aloud with your child, Scholastic Canada has some great statistics on its importance.
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Remember you may need to model effective discussion behaviour. The more you read aloud the more independent and confident the students will become at sharing their opinions and thoughts. The goal should be for the students to initiating asking questions and leading discussions. This will allow you to monitor and facilitate.
Let me know in the comments about your favourite read books and strategies?