Whether you call it read aloud or story time… Whether you read to your sleepy grandchild or a rowdy class of kindergarten students… A read aloud is a great way to share a book. As the name states a read aloud is when a book is read aloud. The reader can be anyone, a parent, a teacher, a sibling. The audience can be anyone, one child, a class full of kindergarten students, or (for the really brave) hundreds of thousands of people on the internet. A read aloud can be a wonderful opportunity to experience really good children’s literature.
What Makes a Great Read Aloud
As I stated above, a read aloud is when a book is read out loud. A GOOD read aloud is when you read a good book and add thoughtful discussion, using accountable talk with text dependent questions; some refer to this as an interactive read aloud. A GREAT read aloud is when you not only read and discuss the book but also add a fun activity designed specifically for the book you have chosen.
So, if you want to do more than just read a book out loud, if you want to create a meaningful experience, keep reading. . .
Step 1 Choose a Great Read Aloud Text
I choose quality picture books. And believe me there are many to choose from. When choosing a book, I consider the audience, the length of the book (the amount of time it will take to read and discuss it) and most importantly the quality of the writing and illustrations in the book. Let’s take a closer look.
- The audience: Who am I reading this book to? Is it my 3-year-old granddaughter or a class of 25 kindergarten students? Tiny pictures are okay for my granddaughter but not for the kindergarten class.
- The length of the book or the amount of time it will take to read: Young children don’t like to sit still for very long, so I make sure I can read the book in 10 minutes or less. You need time for discussion during the read aloud.
- Quality of writing and illustrations: The best books for read aloud have an interesting plot, memorable characters, engaging illustrations, and rich vocabulary.
Step 2 Add Some Text Dependent Questions
Before I read the book to my students, I pre-read it and add comprehension questions. These are the questions we will discuss during the read aloud. I include both text dependent and general questions. Text dependent questions are specific to the book. Here are some examples of text dependent questions for The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. Do you think the tiny seed will be able to keep up with the other seeds? During the story, what happens to the other seeds? Now that it’s autumn, what do you think will happen to the seeds that sailed away? General questions are not text specific and can be applied to most stories. They usually involve story elements, and connections. Here are some examples of general questions. What’s happened so far in the story? What is the problem in the story? Who is your favorite character? What does this story make you think of? When teaching, I put my questions on small sticky notes inside the read aloud book. When reading to my granddaughter, I don’t. Who wants sticky notes at bedtime?
Step 3 Design a FUN Activity to go with the Read Aloud
Stories that are read aloud lend themselves beautifully to fun extension activities. You can find (online), borrow (from a colleague), or design your own fun activity to go with the story you have chosen. I love to recreate the characters in the story using construction paper shapes, scissors, glue and crayons. My students love it too! Here are some examples of really FUN extension activities:
- Create anything involving art. I’m talking paint, markers, crayons, glue, construction paper, tissue paper, scissors, glitter (or not glitter, your choice), clay, playdough. You can let your children create their own art project or do one that you have already made to ensure that everyone is successful.
- Do a reading response where students illustrate their favorite part/character/setting etc. This is fun for both children and grown-ups. Children enjoy drawing and coloring. Grown-ups enjoy reading what the children have tried to write.
- Make a creative class book following the pattern of the original. Our kindergarten students loved to create, read and reread our class-made books.
- A lot of children’s authors have their own websites. Learn more about the author by exploring their website.
Great Books for Read Aloud
Here are some great read alouds, complete with fun extension activities, we used with our kindergarten students. If you don’t have the books, you can find many of them read out loud online. One of our favorite online story time for kids is Storyline Online.
Importance of Reading Aloud
Here’s what Reading Rockets says about reading aloud.“Reading aloud is one of the most important things parents and teachers can do with children. Reading aloud builds many important foundational skills, introduces vocabulary, provides a model of fluent, expressive reading, and helps children recognize what reading for pleasure is all about.”
*Reading Rockets is a national public media literacy initiative offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help.
Story time for kids should be special. Have fun creating meaningful experiences through reading aloud with your children!
More Great Activities
If you loved reading The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle, check out our blog, Plant Activities for Kindergarten. You will find a reading response for this book and many related plant activities. For more great activities to go with terrific books, be sure to read the following:
Blog Posts about Reading
Are you looking for more great articles about reading? Check out these blog posts below.
Katelynn from Katelynn’s Learning Studio has some great reading intervention activities to help struggling readers.
If you need strategies for motivating students to read, check out Kaylee’s post from Teaching with Kaylee B.
Anna Kelly’s Creations has some summer reading activities to keep your kids excited about reading all summer long!