Children love to be read to. Whether it is on the laps of their parents or on a rug listening to their teacher, it is a special time when they can listen and enjoy literature that they may not be able to access independently. Read alouds are an incredibly valuable experience for all young learners.
Read below for the answers to these frequently asked questions:
- What is a read aloud?
- Why are read alouds important?
- What is the difference between shared reading and read aloud?
- How do I do a read aloud?
What is a read aloud?
A read aloud is an instructional practice where a teacher (or other experienced reader) models reading fluency and expression, thinking strategies, reading strategies, a love of reading, and more while reading aloud a fiction or non-fiction text.
20 Reasons Why Read Aloud is Important
- Reading aloud books to children is one of the most valuable experiences parents and teachers can provide to young learners. It has the following benefits:
- Builds important foundational reading and writing skills
- Models reading fluency and expression
- Builds a love of reading and learning
- Develops an interest in books
- Demonstrates that written words carry meaning
- Equips students with book handling skills
- Exposes them to rich vocabulary above their independent reading ability
- Makes challenging books accessible
- Motivates them to practice reading independently to improve reading skills
- Strengthens auditory processing skills
- Increases reading comprehension skills
- Models good thinking and problem-solving strategies
- Shows how to apply reading strategies to books
- Improves self-regulation
- Promotes critical thinking and higher level thinking skills
- Creates a sense of community in the classroom
- Provides opportunities to apply and build upon background knowledge
- Exposes them to a variety of genres
- Promotes curiosity and inquiry
- Provides a framework to teach important skills, information, and lessons
How to Do a Read Aloud
- Set aside 10-20 minutes in your school day to do the read aloud. The amount of time should depend on the age of your students.
- Identify a reading comprehension strategy or standard to be your teaching point.
- Choose a book that teaches or aligns with your teaching point and reflects student interests.
- Jot down a 1-2 sentence summary of the book that you will share with students.
- Plan out questions you want to ask during and after reading. I like to put these questions on a sticky note and put them directly on the page that I will be asking them. Another option is to paperclip a piece of paper onto the page.
- Identify and define new or challenging vocabulary
- Practice reading the book ahead of time using appropriate expression so that you can model how to read fluently.
- Introduce the book by identifying the title, author, and illustrator.
- Give a brief 1-2 sentence summary of the book.
- Name the teaching point.
- Invite students to make predictions and connections. Invite students to make observations and gather information from the illustration on the cover. An option is to do a picture walk through the story.
- Take your time, say the words clearly, and use expression while you are reading.
- Ask the questions you prepared ahead of time.
- Clarify the meaning of the words you identified ahead of time.
- Ask the 3-5 higher-order thinking questions at the end of the story.
- Thank your students for being good listeners.
- An option is to do a follow-up activity related to the teaching point and story. This will require more time to be added to the experience.
Shared Reading vs Read Aloud
Similar to a read aloud, shared reading is an instructional practice where a teacher (or other experienced readers) models reading with fluency and expression. Both experiences expose students to new vocabulary, concepts, text structures, and genres.
Shared reading is different than a read aloud because the text must have words that are presented in a way that students can read them. This could look like a big book or a text with large, clear print that is projected using a document camera. The books should have a predictable plot, a limited amount of text on each page, and repetitive text across pages (that could have some rhythm or rhyme). Bill Martin Jr.’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See is a great example of this. The purpose of these characteristics is so that the students can follow along and participate in the reading. This experience helps students see themselves as readers.
REAL ALOUD TIPS FOR ELEMENTARY TEACHERS
(From the blog post with that title)
Do you love read alouds as much as I do? There are two moments I anticipate with excitement every year in my classroom: When Charlie Bucket finally gets his Golden Ticket and the class cheers wildly (because they always do) and when Charlotte dies and even my toughest little guys look sad. For many kids, those are the first times that a book evokes such emotion and I love being a part of that magic. Read below to grab some tips for read alouds for teachers like you.
This blog post will…
- assist you in preparing your classroom for read alouds
- suggest how to select read alouds and provides a list of some examples
- offer tips for organizing and managing read aloud in your classroom
Before We Begin…
When to Use Read Alouds
I read books throughout aloud to the class at various times throughout the day. I often begin Math Workshop with a text related to our current topic. We use mentor texts in writing. We share non-fiction books during science and social studies. And while I do love integrating literature into all subject areas, there is something extra special about modeling how to read a book “just for fun.” That’s where our daily Read Aloud comes in.
How to Prepare for Read Alouds
- Create a comfortable place in the classroom for read aloud. Your whole-group area is ideal.
- When setting up the space, choose an area that is free from distraction by avoiding having the children face into the hallway or out a window.
- Dedicate a regular time each day to read aloud. I like to have my students enter the classroom after recess and proceed directly to our group area for read aloud. I find this to be the perfect transition from the excitement of lunch and recess back into the academics of the classroom.
How to Select Read Alouds
- Choose books with bold photographs or illustrations that capture their attention.
- I like to read books that are part of a series or by a favorite author as it then encourages students to explore other titles on their own.
- While you will have some tried and true favorites year after year be sure to pick new titles during the year that are selected based on the interest of the class.
Management Tips for Read Alouds
- Bathroom: There are a few times during the day when I request that nobody asks to get a drink or use the bathroom. Read Aloud is one of those times (in case you were wondering the other two are when I am directly instructing the whole class and when they are part of a small group lesson). Children have learned that if they say, “It’s an emergency” then they are free to go. You’ll notice that it is ALWAYS an emergency. I have found that taking a few minutes at the start of the year to define what a true emergency is (i.e. You will actually have an accident if you don’t run to the bathroom immediately) gets a few giggles, but it puts an end to it and they are really good about using the restroom at a better time.
- Tissues: Keep a box of tissues next to you in the Read Aloud area. Doing so will prevent students from having to crawl over each other to get one which in turns eliminates another distraction.
- Hand Signals: Use hand signals with your students. This is one of my top management tips in general, but I especially find the signals for tissue, question, comment and answer to be very helpful for managing Read Aloud.
- Attention Getter: Establish attention getting signals. Never read until you have their attention. Wait time can feel like forever, but is worth the time investment.
- Seating: Assign seats for read aloud. Having a designated spot for each child will prevent students from putting themselves in situations where they are tempted to be off task. This will also make transitioning to read aloud much quicker.
- Partners: Designate a “talking partner” for each student. Build in times for them to share thoughts or comments or respond to a question about the text. This will help minimize disruptions from students who are eager to make a connection…verbally…five times on each page. 😉
- Expectations: Keep in mind that not all children are read to at home consistently. Also, our kids have all grown up in a digital world where everything flashes, blings and beeps. You may need to teach them how to listen to a story. Explain and model your expectations. Talk about what read aloud should look like and sound like. Create a T-Chart together. Include these expectations in your procedures and routines binder so that a student can revisit them if needed.
- Planning: Don’t be the interruption. It is so tempting to stop mid-paragraph to point out a strong word choice or reflect on a thought, but that can be what actually takes kids off task from listening. Preread the text and mark those words you want to point out as well as the questions you may want to use for discussion, but share them with the class just before or just after reading the text.
My Favorite Read Aloud Books
- Judy Moody
- Charlotte’s Web
- The BFG
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- The Wizard of Oz
At the end of each trimester we watch one of the related movies and do several of the activities in the Comparing Books to Movies Packet.
GET THE FREE READING RESOURCE BUNDLE:
You will receive:
- a list of seasonal picture books for each month of the year
- blank book lists for you to record your own titles
- printable reading logs for your students
- print and go monthly reading challenge charts