Reading aloud to children is one of the most effective routines for raising reading achievement and building a love of reading. When an adult reads to a child, he models fluent reading, a love of reading, and develops in the child comprehension skills. The child is exposed to new authors and text types, new words, and new ideas. Children learn to feel empathy for others as they explore the world from another perspective. Snuggling up with a loved one and a book reinforces a feeling of connection, safety, and love (something our children need now more than ever).
As schools shift from the classroom to the home in response to COVID-19, we encourage teachers and parents to make reading aloud a part of the new routine. Teachers can read to their students over video call (try using Zoom), or parents can read to students or listen to audio books together. Videos to support home reading can be found here.
Read Side by Side makes it easy for teachers and parents to read aloud to children with our classroom read-aloud units, an online video unit, and our home read aloud kit. Through these curriculum resources teachers and parents will be taught when to stop reading to discuss what was read, what vocabulary words to highlight, and how to extend a child’s interest beyond the book.
Here are 5 tips for reading aloud:
1. Set aside 20 - 40 minutes a day for reading aloud.
For parents, find a time in your workday where you would naturally be taking a break and read-aloud to your child during that time—read over breakfast, over lunch, or in the late afternoon. Or, move learning time to the evening and try reading aloud after dinner or before bed. Audio books work too! Do you have a time when you will be traveling with your child in the car? Consider doing an audiobook read-aloud on the way to wherever you are going. Pause the audio a couple of times to talk about the book with your child.
2. Select texts that are at a higher level than what the child can read on their own (1-2 grade levels above).
When you select books that are above the child's reading level, you are able to introduce the child to something new—a new genre, a new topic, a new author or series. Ask them what genre they’d like to try or what topic they might be interested in. Check out our list of recommended titles!
3. Provide enough copies of the book, if possible, for the child to follow along.
Research shows that having the text in front of the student as the adult reads has a greater impact on reading achievement than listening to a book without seeing the text. This is because the child will ‘read along in their head’, increasing reading fluency and comprehension.
4. Stop reading several times to discuss what is happening in the text (2-4 times per chapter).
Stop throughout the beginning of the book to ask questions about the details:
- Who are the important characters?
- Where does the story take place?
- When does the story take place?
- What are the problems in the book?
- What has happened so far?
- What do you think will happen next?
Stop throughout the middle of the book to ask questions about the main character, and the author's message:
- What word would you use to describe the main character?
- How is this character feeling?
- What has happened so far in the book?
- What do you think will happen next?
- What do you think the author’s message is?
Near the end, stop to ask what might happen at the book's conclusion:
- How do you think the book will end?
At the end of the book, talk about the book and what was learned:
- What happened at the end of the book?
- Did you like the book?
- What was your favorite part?
- What did you learn about the genre, author, and/or topic?
5. After reading a chapter or two, follow the reading time with an extended activity such as:
- Imaginative Play/Theater
Read Side by Side recommends using the independent reading tri-fold to support reading comprehension and writing skill at home!
In a time of isolation, reading aloud to children has many benefits beyond academics. Snuggling up with a book reinforces a feeling of connection, safety, and love. Reading about another person’s experience encourages empathy and compassion for others, as well as the opportunity to escape your own world for a little bit. Our children may not be able to travel to new places this summer, but they can travel anywhere with a book!
Read Side by Side Publications, LLC.
To read more about teaching virtually, please read our blog post The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Teaching (the C. I. A. Approach)