The Importance of Reading Aloud
by Lisa Frase
(a.k.a. Mae in Texas)
How does one find time to read aloud? Teachers often put reading aloud to the side, as something nice, but lacking in instructional value. The truth is, if we couldnít find time for anything else, we should find time for reading aloud. It is a powerful teaching tool that directly affects our students.
Why Read Aloud?
Reading aloud opens up doors to the possibilities. Children hear magical words that take them to far away times and places. They listen to information that intrigues them. They come to realize that books are filled with endless adventures and amazing journeys. It is through reading aloud that children come to know the power and beauty of learning to read for themselves. Consider the toddler who sits on his motherís lap and listens to the same story over and over again as he claps his hands with glee, and begins a journey into the imagination. The joy of listening to stories should not end when a child enters the classroom door. Instead, it should just begin there. Teachers have the opportunity to fill in the gaps for children who do not experience this pleasure at home, and to continue feeding the mind with readingís many rewards. Spinning tales and weaving words are timeless and classic motivational tools that entice the developing reader to search for more. Invite children into the wonderful world of books by reading aloud daily and then by making the text available for further exploration.
Capture Their Attention
Capture your young audienceís attention by reading with flair. You are modeling oral fluency while drawing them into the story with your voice. Read with inflection and dramatic pauses. Try on character voices. Bring the story to life by giving the words a lift with your emotion and facial expressions. It wonít be long before you find your students more willing to take risks during their own oral readings.
Reading aloud is the golden key to unlock the windows of success. Every time you read aloud, you are exposing your students to new vocabulary in context, to information, to different places and times, to the emotions and traits of various characters, and to the many different genres. When you read aloud to your students, you are giving them a precious gift to be treasured forever.
Selecting the Text
The rule of thumb for reading aloud is to select a text that is no more than two years above the average independent reading level. Consider the maturity of the text versus the maturity of your students. Always preread your selections to make sure that they are appropriate. If you want to share in the joy of discovering a book for the first time with your students, ask a trusted colleague to recommend a favorite. Picture books provide excellent choices for all ages. A fifth grader can enjoy a story like The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg as well as a first grader. Picture books also lend themselves well for the study of reading strategies or writing craft.
Reading aloud creates the perfect setting for modeling thinking as you encounter different text structures, notice the authorís craft, or focus on a reading strategy. Read from different genres: fiction, nonfiction, poetry. Integrate reading aloud throughout the curriculum. There are many wonderful books that fit science, social studies, and math topics. Read aloud current events, a short piece taken from a longer book, a funny comic, a silly joke, a motivational poem, a quote, information on school activities. The list of options is endless. There is enough to choose from that you never need to let a day go by without reading something aloud.
Our time in the classroom is valuable, and we donít have a minute to waste. Consider reading aloud the foundation for all that you teach. Take advantage of every opportunity to read to your students. Let each day be a new adventure awaiting you and your students. The rewards of reading aloud are priceless, and the instructional value is tremendous.
About Lisa Frase...
Lisa Frase is a fourth grade teacher in Clear Creek I.S.D. in Texas. She is also a Texas state certified Master Reading Teacher. She has taught for seven years, and is currently working on her first book. Lisa will begin work on her Master's in Reading in the fall of this year.