Reading aloud to a classroom full of students may come naturally to some teachers, but others need more guidance. It isn’t always as easy as selecting a book and beginning to read out loud, especially if you are using the book to introduce a strategy or skill. Here are several tips on how to prepare for your read aloud to maximize your time.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR READ ALOUD
The best way to optimize your read aloud time is to be prepared. Follow these tips to get started.
Choose a Book
The very first thing you need to do is select a book. You should consider your audience, student interests, teaching themes, and academic standards when making this decision. Not sure how to select the right book? Don’t hesitate to ask your colleagues or school librarian for their favorite recommendations. I share my favorite books on Instagram. and I have put together books lists on a variety of topics to save you time.
Read the Book
The last thing you want to do is get caught off guard with an unnecessary surprise. Always preview the books you plan to share with students.
Determine Your Purpose for Reading
Think about why you want to share this particular book with students. Will this book be a mentor text for writing, used to model a reading strategy, to help build schema, or something else? While books are an incredible instructional tool, please don’t forget that you also have permission to read to students just for fun!
Identify New Vocabulary or Unfamiliar Terms
Next, it’s time to dive into the content of the book. One of the first things I do when previewing a text is identify new vocabulary and unfamiliar terms. A few things to keep in mind are words your students need to know in order to comprehend the story, content vocabulary, figurative language, and unknown words from different time periods or cultures. If there are any words from another language, make sure you practice the correct pronunciation.
Choose Stopping Points
Now that you have selected new vocabulary and unfamiliar terms, determine which words need to be introduced before the book is read, and which can be discussed during the story. You also need to consider stopping points in the text to allow students to make predictions, ask questions, and share their thoughts. If you are planning to model a strategy or skill, you need to plan your stopping points to think aloud. You can mark the pages with sticky notes, or keep a bookmark tucked inside with your notes.
Plan and Prep Any Additional Materials You Will Need
To dig deeper into the text, think about additional activities you want to pair with your read aloud. This might be a graphic organizer, discussion questions, a vocabulary activity, or even a craft paired with a writing prompt. Decide whether these activities will be completed before, during, or after the read aloud. If you’re not sure where to start, I have spent years creating resources to pair with many picture books and chapter books to help teachers save time. These are available in my TpT store.
Schedule an Appropriate Amount of Time to Read
Now that you’ve taken the steps to prepare for your read aloud, it’s time to set aside the time needed to share the book with your students. If you aren’t great with estimating the amount of time it will take, do a test run. Set a timer and see how long it takes you to read aloud. Practice your stopping points and add a few minutes for any time your students will turn and talk or have time to share their predictions or questions. Once you have determined the amount of time needed, add an extra five minutes just to be safe.
Share the Book
All of your hard work is about to pay off because now it’s time to share the book with your students. This is always my favorite part. Keep in mind that there is one thing you can’t plan for: how students react to the story. Not every book will be a home run for every student and that’s OK. Just keep sharing books and a love for reading with them and the rest will fall into place.
Looking for more reading tips? Check out these posts:
- Read Aloud Tips
- Reasons Why You Should Read Aloud to Big Kids
- Ways to Get Your Students Excited About Books
- Choosing Books for Reading Groups
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