Friday, October 10, 2014

Read Alouds

Last week at our staff development we spent some time discussing our non-negotiables for literacy. We created anchor charts (see this post) that outline what we believe is absolutely essential for our literacy instruction. For the next several blog posts, I will reference these anchor charts with a post about each component.

Read Alouds

There is nothing more important than a child listening to fluent readers. This is a way to model good reading, provide insight to the reader's process through think alouds, and engage reluctant readers. In read alouds, the books can be of various levels, opening up opportunities for our students to hear more complex reading that they may not be able to read independently. Unlike shared reading, you only need on copy of the text.The kids will probably start checking out the books at the library so they can follow along, some might even beg their parents to purchase a copy. This is when you know you have hooked the readers! 

Read Alouds are a great way to build oral language speaking and listening skills. Through listening to stories, children are exposed to the rich vocabulary and the story structure of texts. You might notice that children will start using that language in their conversations or when writing. These books can act as a mentor for reading and writing, providing additional scaffolding for student learning. 

Don't be afraid to expose students to other genres during the read aloud. Fiction tends to lend nicely to read alouds because of the story structure, but nonfiction texts are just as important. Try to alternate the genre of your read aloud, pointing out the different text features in the genre. This is also the #1 way to connect the content areas into literacy. Read a book about the social studies, science, or math unit you are on. This will provide multiple connections for students and even teach components of the topic! It's a win-win! 

Also, don't hesitate to vary up the type of text you read aloud to students. A read aloud could be a picture book or a novel, but it can also be a  magazine or newspaper article. Varying up the reading material will show kids all of the different kinds of reading we do! It will also hook in readers of varying interests. Use resources such as TIME for Kids or National Geographic for Kids to get some shorter pieces for nonfiction. Websites such as DOGONews or NEWSELA provide leveled articles on current events. 

While books should be read for pleasure and sometimes without interruption, this time of day provides the perfect insight for you to model your reading process. Use small moments to interject with what you did as a reader. For example, if a part gets confusing, you might say,"hmm I think I need to go back and reread because I was confused here" or if a part is very powerful, you might say, "Oh wow, let me reread that line so we can hear that powerful statement again!" Your language during the think aloud will transfer over to the children's independent reading time. 

Read Alouds pack in so many essentials of literacy learning all in about 20 minutes. Beyond building a community of readers, they provide ample opportunity to demonstrate reading strategies and grow oral language skills. It is absolutely essential for read alouds to become a daily classroom routine. 

Here are some websites that have some great recommendations for read alouds: 

Here are my personal favorite authors for read alouds: 

Eve Bunting

I could probably go on and on about authors I love. In addition to classic authors, be sure to include more contemporary pieces. I use the following resources to keep me up to date on current children's and youth literature.

What books have your children loved to hear read aloud this year? Comment below to share your favorites!


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