- Make read aloud time a happy time! Gather the students in front of you on a rug or in a corner of the classroom. If necessary, establish rules for appropriate behavior during read aloud time: keep hands to oneself, wait for the teacher to call on you, etc. Wait for all the students to get quiet and calm--it's no fun trying to talk over many voices.
- Make sure that you are reading from a variety of genres: fiction and non-fiction, chapter books, picture books, series (i.e. Henry and Mudge, Arthur)
- Preview the book before you share it with your students. Are there any unfamiliar concepts that will need a quick review before reading? Give the students a very brief introduction to the story.
- Share author and illustrator information with the students. If possible, link to other books you have read by those same people.
During the reading
- Remember to read with expression--really ham it up! The kids will love it. Change your voice for different characters, and vary the speed as well: fast for exciting parts, slow for scary or quiet parts.
- Save the "teaching" for later. Don't interrupt the story to ask lots of questions ("What color is her dress?" "How did they get to grandma's house?"). Focus on the flow of the story. Your students need to hear fluent, phrased, expressive reading. This will break down if you stop too many times. Too many interruptions can also lead to a breakdown in meaning for some students.
- Don't forget to share the pictures! Establish a routine for this to cut down on "I can't see!"
After the reading
- Now it's time to get into the story! Briefly check on student comprehension, remembering to focus on higher-order questioning. (Not "Did Little Red Riding Hood listen to her mother?" but "Do you think Little Red Riding Hood will listen to her mother next time? Why or why not?").
- Make links to other stories your students have read. Have they read other stories with similar themes or situations? How was this story the same or different? How does this story compare to others by the same author?
- Show the students how to return to the text. Do you need to go back to the book to answer a question? Model for the students how this is done. This will help them during their independent reading.
- Don't put the book away! Leave it out for students to explore on their own, and don't be shy about reading it again with the whole class. Young children love to hear their favorite stories repeated, and they benefit from hearing the same book many times.
Read Aloud Resources
- The Read Aloud Handbook: 4th edition, Jim Trelease (Penguin, 1995)
- Best Books for Children: Preschool Through Grade 6, 6th edition, John Thomas Gillespie, editor (R.R. Bowker, 1998)
- Children's Books from Other Countries, Carl Tomlinson, editor (Scarecrow Press, 1998)
- Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children, Irene C. Fountas & Gay Su Pinnell (Heinemann, 1996) v