Why Reading Aloud Matters

by mrsapia

Photo by Shelley Davis

Why Reading Aloud Matters

One of the most important times in my classroom is our read aloud time.  It is known to my students as a non-negotiable time.  It’s a time to summon your alter ego and get lost in the story.  It’s a time for students to find a comfortable spot in our classroom.  It’s a time to celebrate the written word by demonstrating passion, admiration, and respect for it. Reading aloud is a lost art in many schools, and it’s time to resurrect this sacred time.

Let me be blunt, contrary to popular belief, read aloud time is instructional time.  A teacher can purposefully weave and scaffold many strategies and skills taught throughout the year.  This takes systematic planning and focus on the teachers part. Have a pacing guide? No worries. You can find a chapter book that aligns to standards being taught. Books used as a read aloud should be chosen with great care and as closely aligned to your student’s interests as possible.  Exposures to various types of genres is imperative, as reading aloud is a chance to open up new worlds of language and knowledge for our students.

At the start of the school year, I give students this interest survey.  This has been modified from the many surveys I’ve found online from my PLN on Twitter.  By giving this interest survey and using the information, it provides me with a road map for the books I will be reading aloud throughout the year. Can this change, absolutely, but I highly encourage you to have a “soft” scoop and sequence with regards to books and the places you want to take the kids through the magic of a read aloud.

For the spirit of honestly, I usually start the year off reading picture books. Why? Because picture books rock! Many picture books have significant messages, themes, character development, etc, that can be used to deep a students understanding of basic skills, as well as modeling the importance of how powerful a picture book can be for instructional purposes. This year I read Pete and Pickles, What To Do with an Idea, The magnificent Thing,  Bluebird, and Thank You Mr. Falker to name a few. This is a springboard which leads perfectly into The Global Read Aloud.  Here is my post from the 2013 Global Read Aloud, as well as a post from our building wide read aloud.  Suffice to say, The Global Read Aloud is one of my favorite projects each year.

Every year, without fail, I have the majority of my class either borrowing or purchasing the GRA book to read in school and/or at home with their parents.  Nothing makes me happier as an educator than students who are genuinely stoked to read a book because they are intrinsically motivated too, not because they have to.  Some of the chapter books I’ve read this year were Fish in a Tree, One for the Murphys, Terrible Two, The Crossover, Locomotive, and Lincoln’s Grave Robbers.  Each book provided some very rich, meaningful conversation that is inspiring to watch, especially when we get out of our students’ way and let them share their voice.  But that’s a whole different topic.

So, without further adieu, here are just SOME reasons why I read aloud to my students.

  • builds community and nutures a love of reading
  • exposure to complex vocabulary
  • improved syntax
  • improved listening and written comprehension
  • improved predicting and inferring skills
  • shared experience that “equals” the playing field
  • stop at key points of the text to build suspense
  • opportunity for discussion and students working collaboratively
  • exposure to a variety of different genres
  • introduce a range of high quality books
  • FUN!
  • creates a community of readers and foster loves for written text
  • models a love of reading
  • immersion in language, text structures, themes, etc.
  • integrate technology purposefully and connect globally to discuss books using Skype, Kidblog, and Edmodo
  • can lead to parent engagement – Post books on Shelfari Widget, classroom website, Remind, Instagram, Twitter
  • increased fluency, expression, voice inflection, rate, accuracy
  • visualization and creating a movie in their mind
  • Can be very low tech, too. It’s all about bringing passions and enthusiasm as you read.

I’d love to hear from you.  What are your books favorite books to read aloud? Why do you read aloud?

I am a passionate teacher in Stamford, CT. I teach fifth grade ELA/Social Studies. I am proud to be an active member of the Twitter educational community. I am an organizer for #EdCampSWCT, a moderator for #ctedu, technology professional develop leader in my district, and a believer in a high tech/high touch blended learning approach to teaching.  I am nominated for the Bammy of 2015 Elementary School Teacher of the Year. I am a certified administrator. I believe in taking risks and working collaboratively to augment student achievement. I love children’s literature and strive to become better everyday. I am a husband and father. Follow me on Twitter @mrsapia_teach