10 tips for read-aloud learning
Hip, hip HOORAY! This week has a little gem of a day hiding inside — World Read Aloud Day!
March 7th is World Read Aloud Day, and I stand firmly behind the idea that every child, every person should be able to read. And who wouldn’t, right?
And I’m a huge fan of reading aloud–with our littliest ones up to our big guys. I not only love read-alouds because they offer a super-awesome time with some of my favorite people, but also because I think–I know!–that it’s an ideal time for some sneaky learning as well.
That’s not to say that I believe that parents must shove some sort of learning into every. single. book. they read to their kids.
But I do think that most parents I know really do want to know how they can make reading with their kids a much happier and more enjoyable time. And most parents really do want their kids to become strong readers, so they’re usually game for some sneaky learning.
So since I’m a Reading Specialist and totally love this stuff, I thought I’d share some read-aloud tips in honor of World Read Aloud Day.
Here’s the skinny. . . 10 tips for read-aloud learning, in no particular order:
10 tips for read-aloud learning:
- Keep it light. Make reading fun. No matter the age. We, as parents, need to keep reading light–in order to make it a fun, enjoyable, and a desired activity. So if your kiddo’s not feeling Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom or Barnyard Dance, don’t sweat it. Read ‘em another time.
If your child is having a hard time with reading aloud to you (or won’t read with you), make sure you’re doing and saying the best things possible to support your emerging reader. It’s not easy–don’t get me wrong–but if we have the correct words, it makes a huge difference and can really eliminate undue stress.
- Help them to connect. Everyone loves to feel a part of something. And it’s natural for little ones to relate just about everything to their own little lives. So carry that connecting idea through with the books you’re reading aloud to them.
Simply begin by sharing the way you feel about what’s going on in the book–called a think-aloud–in order to model children can begin thinking and making connections as they read:
- If I were Bunny, I’d feel exactly the same way. . .
- I remember when we went to a park on a hot sunny day. . .
- Hey! McQueen needs to slow down and think about others–just like we had to slow down yesterday. . .
- I know how Owen feels about his blankie. It was so hard for me to do things without my blankie, too, when I was little.
- Oh, boy. Look at Lilly. She feels bad about how she acted. I have felt that way, too, after. . .
- Read in fun places. One of our all-time faves is The Best Place to Read, by Debbie Bertram and Susan Bloom, and in the book, the little guy is on a crazy search for the best place to read his book. He eventually finds it, but what I love is that he is willing to try out about a million places before he finds the best place for him to read.
Though his best place is his Mommy’s lap, there’s no rule that says all reading needs to be done at the same time or in the same place. No rule says that read-alouds have to be done in the child’s bedroom before he hits the sack. Mixing up where you read can be just as important as how you read.
Try reading in the kitchen before breakfast, in your car while waiting in the pickup line, at the doctor’s office, on a picnic, in the tree house (gosh, I wish we had one!), in a homemade fort, on the floor, in the bathtub, on top of a bunk bed, upside down. It doesn’t matter.
Read while your child bounces on a trampoline; read while he’s lining up cars or stringing beads. Read any time, anywhere.
- Read in fun ways. Mix things up a bit with the way you read. Consider:
- Funny voices: You can do it. Deep voice for Grandpa; teeny voice for the mouse. You’ve got it in you, and kids love it.
- Echo Read: you read a phrase, and the child echos it back.
- Chorus Read: for emerging readers who can decode (or read) the text on their own), read the text as a chorus–together.
- Read in a microphone.
- Tape record yourself reading.
- Sing read.
- Phone call read: have a loved one call and read a book over the phone– sure, you both have to have the same book so the child can follow along, but that’s not too hard.
- Skype read: if you have and use Skype, have a loved one Skype read so you can see each other.
- Audio recording: Listen to a book on tape! There are tons at most libraries, and it’s great for kids to hear another adult reading to them sometimes.
- Pet read: read to a pet–real or imagined.
- Take turns: you read a page, then he reads a page. . .
- Read fiction and non-fiction. And poetry and newspapers. Who says that reading aloud has to be reserved for books? Start the day by reading the newspaper together. It doesn’t have to be scary, front-page headlines that will give ‘em nightmares for weeks; read the kids’ section or the local section or sports. And it doesn’t have to be full-fledged six page articles, either. Reading headlines or captions counts.
- Use the pictures–on the page and in their heads. Talk about the picture on the cover of the book and throughout the book as you read. Connect the illustrations to what is happening in the text. Talk about the colors, shapes, and shadows. Point out the characters, objects, setting, and ideas.
Ask them to close their eyes as you read a particularly image-rich passage. Talk about the ‘movie’ that appears in their minds as they hear the words–what they see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. Share ‘mind movies’ and talk about how your movies–or visualizations–are alike and different.
When kids can picture what they’re reading, they’re much more likely to understand what they’re reading.
- Teach them to predict. Predicting gets readers interested in books. Predicting gets the brain moving and questions forming. We need to teach kids how to make predicting a natural first step when they pick up a book or when we’re reading aloud. They need to know what strong readers do even before they start reading.
- Look at the cover and talk about what they see;
- Read the title and the back of the book;
- Flip through the pages and look at the structure of the book, the format, the pictures;
- Read chapter titles (if there are any);
- Think about what they believe may happen or what the book may be about;
- As they read, they revisit their ideas and either confirm or correct.
It can be as long or as short as you want, but strong readers usually take a good walk through the book before they start reading. This pre-reading ritual gives us a chance to think about what will happen in the book and help to create some loose predictions.
- Help them to ask questions. Talk through your own questions as you read–think aloud to show kiddos that reading is an interactive event. Show them that reading doesn’t just happen; rather, reading occurs when the reader works along with the text to make meaning.
As you read, ask yourself:
- I wonder why Arthur felt that D.W. was being unfair. Didn’t he know that. . . ?
- Oh, no. Franklin seems to be a little bit bossy towards his friends. Will they keep playing with him if he’s bossing them so?
- Ack! I can see here that Trixie left without Knuffle Bunny! What will she do?!
- Why does Sister Bear think she deserves to have every toy that Queenie has? I don’t understand it.
- When will he realize that she hasn’t turned off the water?!
Magazine Hunt, anyone?
- Let them be detectives. Hunt for parts of a magazine, a book, or a newspaper. And then read what they’ve found, aloud. Really use the text in your hands–talk about the text features like the title, author, and illustrator, the table of contents, the first word on a page, and the punctuation marks. Point out the index or glossary. Look at the words in italics or boldface, and talk about what those features of print mean.
So often we forget that our little ones may notice a difference in the general appearance of a magazine, newspaper, or a book, but they don’t know what those differences really are or what they mean or how they can help them as readers.
Reading a poem? Point out the stanzas, or paragraphs in poetry. Reading the newspaper? Talk about the sections, photographs, captions. Reading a book? Show them the copyright date, the title page, the author’s bio. It’s all about helping them to understand and appreciate the text in their hand and the text features of each one.
- Play. With. Words. Words are so fun, it’s not even funny.
When you run across a great word as you’re reading, stop. Repeat the word and close your eyes–and just let your little one hear it again. Talk about why you love the sound of the word or what you think of when you hear it or why you love to say it out loud. Talk about what it means and how the author used the word in the story. Try to use that word again–a little bit later–and see your kiddo smile big.
And if your kids are still toddling around and that ‘word love’ stuff may be over her tiny head, then just read and bop along and sing and dance as you go. All of Sandra Boynton, Karma Wilson, Daniel Kirk, Kevin Lewis books are super for reading aloud to little ones because their words are catchy and melodic.
And you know what? I can’t stop at 10 tips for read-aloud learning. Here’s an extra (for good luck!):
- Talk about the awesomeness of books. Books are awesome. Some are more awesome than others, obviously, but there are some really, truly incredible books out there today. So find them. And talk about them. There are gifts in every single book–it’s just a matter of finding them and celebrating them.
Maddy, Owen, and Cora all know which books I love, love, love. They know which books make me cry every time I read them. They know which books’ illustrations are tops; they know which books’ messages I stand behind. They know which books make us laugh and laugh and laugh, and they know which books make us all feel blue.
And I know which books they love. I know the books they love to hear me read, and I know the books they love to read. We know this because we talk about it. That’s all. We talk about how powerful books can be when they’re written–or illustrated well. We talk about the awesomeness of books.
This is only a start, believe me. But if you want more. . .
- For more, check out more from our read-aloud learning series–real ideas that you can use in your next read-aloud to help build a strong reading foundation for your child!
- We are extremely lucky to have three WRAD (World Read Aloud Day) ambassadors on the we teach forum: Michelle Breum, of Beginning Reading Help, Jackie Higgins of Ready. Set. Read 2 Me, and Dawn Little, of Links to Literacy. Please feel free to head over and ask questions, meet our experts, and share your ideas!
- Or check out LitWorld for more information on how you can help promote and support World Read Aloud Day.
Here’s to many happy read-alouds!Pin It