Listening to stories being read in the classroom or at home is one of the most enjoyable reading experiences children have. But it’s not just fun, children also benefit academically from read alouds.
Whether you’re a teacher who reads to her class after lunch or a parent who reads books before bedtime, there is no doubt that children love hearing stories. Whether it be a picture book with only a few words per page or a lengthy, but page turning novel.
But reading aloud doesn’t always come naturally. Here are twelve tips for awesome read alouds.
12 Tips for Great Read Alouds
1. Plan Plenty of Time for Reading Aloud
While reading aloud is the perfect go-to activity when you have an antsy kid or an extra five minutes of class time, planning ahead for reading aloud is even better. A good read loud session is 15-20 minutes long. This typically allows for enough time to get through a chapter or two or even a few picture books.
2. Choose the Right Kind of Books
The best read aloud books are those that are of high interest to the children. Choose books that have dynamic language, vivid pictures, and inventive characters. Humorous and predictable books are popular with younger children while books with surprising twists and turns are attractive to older children.
3. Preview Books Before You Read Them Aloud
Always, always read the book prior to reading them aloud to the children. This will keep you from being surprised by unexpected lines that may not be age-appropriate, but it will also prepare you to read fluidly with the right cadence.
4. Introduce the Book
A popular technique to set the stage for read alouds is to walk the children through the different parts of the book before beginning. Point out the image on the front title, along with the title, author, and illustrator. if it’s a chapter book, read the chapter names to the children and as them to summarize what they think the book will be about. Walk the children through the pictures in the book, too.
5. Read With Expression and With Voices
You might feel silly, but you aren’t. Children like to hear stories with varying cadence and silly voices. Read loudly when appropriate and very softly when appropriate. Vary your speed, too.
6. Allow Talking
That’s right. Allow the children to talk about the story, to ask questions and respond to yours. Encourage the children to comment on the story and invite them to compare the events and feelings in the story to themselves.
7. Ask Open-Ended Questions
Children don’t gain a lot from answering yes or no questions, so instead ask open-ended questions that prompt deeper thinking.
8. Keep an Eye on Your Audience
Look and listen for cues from the children. If they get fidgety, it’s time to close up the book and move to another one or another activity. Or, if they are leaning forward looking only at you, then you know the kids are loving it!
9. Point Out Important Parts
During reading alouds, be sure to point out important parts of the story, including special language patterns and parts of the text that really invoke feeling. Take a minute to have the children imagine themselves in the story. When the story or chapter is done, ask the children what parts of the book they enjoyed the most or that they remember really well.
10. Remember That Listening to Stories Might be a New Experience
If you are a teacher, then you certainly have an understanding that not all children have the same background, so not all children know how to react when being read aloud to. If this is the case, then start with short, interesting stories with bright pictures and compelling characters. If appropriate, consider allowing fidgeting children to draw, use play dough, or make paper fans while listening.
11. Keep Trying
Remember, we all have bad days! This includes with our kids, too. Whenever you are feeling frustrated one day, remember to keep trying, and know when it is time to take a break.
12. Have Fun!
Have fun! Reading loud and listening to stories aloud always be fun!