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January 8, 2015

Read Alouds: Still the Most Effective Way to Develop Reading Skills

It may come as a surprise, but despite new teaching methods, reading aloud is still the single most effective way to develop children’s reading skills.

Reading aloud teaches children of all ages to associate reading with pleasure and provides them with a reading role model, all while developing their vocabulary and background knowledge. It also builds classroom community around shared experiences; develops speaking, listening, and attention skills; and widens students’ views of the world.

While reading aloud in an unstructured form does have benefits for learners, developing an intentional read-aloud strategy maximizes instructional time and enhances students’ experiences and learning. Here are four tips to consider when creating a read-aloud strategy:

1. Set a Time and Stick to It

Make read alouds part of your daily classroom routine. Not only will students anticipate and look forward to it, but integrating read alouds into your daily practice also sends the message that reading is important and valued.

2. Choose Books Wisely

Read alouds are about the joy of reading so make sure to pick books that you love, too. The enthusiasm and passion that you exude while reading will rub off on your students, priming them to be better, more passionate readers as a result.

For some great ideas and inspiration, check out the following sites:

3. Model Mistakes and Active Reading

Let students hear you make mistakes so they learn that even good readers stumble over words. Also, model your thought process while reading so students can begin to connect it to their own. Stop at strategic spots to explain your thinking, define words that students might not know, and encourage active reading by asking clarifying questions about the story.

4. Extend the Learning

Provide opportunities for students to share their thinking about the read aloud in pairs, small groups, or as a whole class. If time allows, you can also engage your class in creative outlets to share their learning, like Reader’s Theatre, role-playing, or drawing.

By reading aloud to your students, you are building a foundation that will help them become skilled lifelong readers who are ready for college, career, and beyond.

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