The Read Aloud
As a child, my first interactions with books were curling up in the lap of my mom, dad or grandmother to listen to a book. My all-time favorite book came from the World Book Childcraft series, the one and only Poems and Rhymes book (see photo below). I loved listening to the playful language of the poems and nursery rhymes, and eventually I memorized a majority of the poems, which I proudly annoyed all family members by constantly reciting the nursery rhymes over and over to them. I LOVED this book so much that I kept this book over the years, and I have shared it with my own children…the book can currently be found on Lilly’s bookshelf. To this day, I still love read alouds…picture books, audio books, podcasts, etc.
Over the years, the read aloud in classrooms has been pushed aside, because more time was needed to cover the growing state standards. If you are like me, you still made sure students received their daily dose of a read aloud (I’m sure you have your favorites too, so please add your favorite to the list). Instead of foregoing the read aloud, we as teachers need to make this a reality for our students EVERY DAY. Reading aloud is, according to the landmark 1985 report "Becoming a Nation of Readers," "the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading." Other research concludes that 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.
What’s your read aloud practice?
- · Should a read aloud be for pleasure only, no instruction?
Lester Laminack would suggest the first time we read aloud to students it should be a gift to unwrap, free of teaching. He suggests once kids have heard the book once, it is a familiar friend that you can revisit to analyze it as a reader or writer; therefore, it’s important that we choose our read alouds wisely.
- · Should the read aloud be an interactive read aloud?
“During the interactive read aloud, the teacher reads aloud to students in ways that allow the whole group to experience a text together. The read aloud also allows a teacher to demonstrate the orchestration of strategies that characterize proficient reading. Sometimes the read aloud especially highlights a few skills or strategies, with the teacher shifting from demonstration to guided practice, going between think alouds and prompts that help students engage in similar thinking” (TCRWP, 2017, p. 10).
Is one way better? For me, the answer is no. I believe students need to experience both types of read alouds. It is about finding the right balance for students, listening to a story for pleasure vs. listening to a story for instruction.
To learn more from Lester Laminack’s approach, please check out the following videos.
If you would like to learn more about the interactive read aloud and suggestions, please check out this document.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Let me know what you think.
Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (July, 2017). Summer Institute on the Teaching of Reading packet.