Read Aloud, Part II

Caldecott Medal Books
Caldecott Medal Books (Photo credit: anneheathen)

After understanding why reading aloud to our kids is so beneficial, the next step is to get ready for your oral reading.  Timothy Rasinski offers components to think about when preparing for your read aloud in The Fluent Reader

First, when you read and creating a comfortable atmosphere is important.  The children need to have an environment that is set up for listening.  At home, our kids prefer to be read to first thing in the morning when they are still calm and quiet and at bedtime as a time to wind down and relax.  We snuggle up in a comfy chair or in a bed and read a few books until they are ready to play or relaxed enough to go to sleep.  At school, I choose to read for 15-20 minutes at the beginning of a class period as a warm up or at the end of the period with an exit ticket.  I let my students get comfortable at their desks or on the floor so they will be more apt to listen.

Next, you need to choose the right book.  We make different choices for different kids and different reasons for reading.  My own children tend to drive the decision of what we read out loud.  They each have their favorites that they love to hear over and over.  We provide a literacy rich environment for them that has several forms of text to choose from and a mix of fiction and non-fiction.  We’ve read everything from Jamberry to One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to parts of the Harry Potter series.  They have even requested to hear parts of the books we are currently reading.  For my students, I read either books that tie into the curriculum in their other classes or books that will increase their background knowledge and vocabulary and/or allow for use of various reading comprehension strategies.  Titles like Red Scarf Girl, My Brother Sam is Dead, and Breadwinner all connect to our social studies curriculum.  Others I enjoy are Touching Spirit Bear, Surviving the Applewhites, and anything by Roald Dahl. Newbery and Caldecott award winners are great options, too, and Jim Trelease provides a huge list of suggestions in The Read-Aloud Handbook.

Finally, Rasinski says practicing is necessary “in order to provide them with the most fluent, and expressive example possible.”  I believe it is important to be familiar with the text before reading aloud.  When we have had experience with the book, magazine, newspaper article, etc., we are able to express greater meaning to our listener with how we read.  I think my years of experience reading orally to my students helped when it came time for me to read the script for The Fascinating World of… DVD series.  It just came naturally for me. Knowing what parts to emphasize, when to change voices, and the best parts to change volume, tempo, or phrasing will make for a rewarding read aloud experience for both you and your listener.

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