Read Alouds are by definition “read aloud” to your students, but it isn’t just about reading the book. It’s about showing students how they can be entertained by books AND learn from books. Reading aloud can contain lessons on story elements, story comprehension, author discussions, vocabulary and everything else in reading. It can be the highlight of the day, if you take a few minutes to plan and pre-read your Read Aloud.
1. read alouds: Plan Think Alouds
Books can be read for entertainment, but if you are reading for a purpose make a plan. If you are pre-reading, make a plan.
Using post-it notes is an easy way to leave notes for yourself. Jotting down key words on the self-sticking notes or listing a question for your students at each place in the book, can create a calm read. Stellaluna is a great way to each Compare and Contrast.
Stellaluna is different from her bird “brothers and sisters,” but they had some things in common, as well. Knowing you are going to teach Compare and Contrast the read aloud helps you engage your students in the book and make connections.
You can also add notes to pages with specific questions you want to make sure the students can answer.
Self-sticking notes are your best friend for pre-reading and planning think alouds.
2. read alouds: Plan Vocabulary
Most of you know my love of the Magic Tree House books. I could probably teach any skill using these books…but they are great for vocabulary.
We read a Magic Tree House book in 11 days. The first day is all about vocabulary, then it’s a chapter a day with summaries and predicting and fun. (If you want more details about my plan, check out the blog post here.)
During the introduction day, we discuss any vocabulary they may need to fully understand the book. In the book, The Knight at Dawn, we discuss the difference between night and knight, the words relating to castles (Great Hall, dungeon, Armory, and more) and the word “precipice.”
We define it, model it, and own it before we read the book, then when we are reading the vocabulary doesn’t stop comprehension.
Sometimes we even make sure the parents know the vocabulary words in the book, so they can talk about it with their children at home.
3. read alouds: Practice Rhythm
Some books need practice. The Three Ninja Pigs is a great retelling of The Three Little Pigs. It is fun and the students love the story.
However, the entire book is written in limerick. I don’t know about you, but I had never read a book full of limericks before these books by Schwartz.
BUT, man are they fun for everyone.
You need to practice the rhythm of the book, so students will be able to enjoy the rhythm and the story.
4. read alouds: Practice Story Language
Flossie and the Fox is one of my favorite books. It is another retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but is set in the south and is written using an old south dialect.
Several years ago I was fortunate enough to hear Patricia McKissack read portions of this book. What a thrill! There are examples of non-standard English, so the reader needs to understand the story language, so it doesn’t effect the comprehension or entertainment of the story.
Make sure you pre-read it, but you’ll love it.
“All due respect, Miz Cat, but both y’all got sharp claws and yellow eyes. So…that don’t prove nothing, cep’n both y’all be cats.”
5. read alouds: Understand Emotions
This is special to me…because I made the classic mistake of NOT pre-reading this book before I read it in front of my students. I LOVE Patricia Polacco.
Her books are meaningful on so many levels, so when I saw a new book in the Scholastic book club flyer, I ordered it immediately.
I was so excited to read Chicken Sunday when I got it, I didn’t pre-read the book. This is truly one of my favorite books, but by the end of the story, I was crying.
Yep. Crying. Well, some might have said sobbing. Certainly, I was snurping.
My emotions were slowly building with the friendship of the 3 main characters, story of Mr. Kodinski’s shop and his back story, the disappointment on Miss Eula’s face and how the children decide to help Mr. Kodinski when they didn’t have to. But at the end, when it says,
“Winston, Stuart, and I are all grown up now. We lost Miss Eula some time back, but every year we take some chicken soup up to Mountain View Cemetery and do just what she asked.”
Oh, goodness. I’m tearing up just typing that. So trust me, pre-read so you don’t start the “snurping cry” in front of your students.
6. read alouds: Anything Objectionable?
Finally, this is one of my favorite reasons to pre-read the book. This book was in our leveled library and a teacher came to me frantic one day to take the book OUT of the book room.
She had not pre-read the book and she had shared it with her group of second graders. The book is a standard retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but it’s a little “real.” The huntsman “slices” the belly of the wolf with his axe to help Grandma and Little Red out of his belly.
Grandma is a little rattled by the close quarters of the wolf belly, so she has a glass of wine (the wine and bottle are in the illustration). The huntsman takes home the pelt of the wolf to hang on his wall. Yep, pre-reading is important.
***Note: I didn’t take it out of the literacy library, I put a “warning” label on the cover.
I hope I have inspired you to pre-read your Read Aloud. Making the most of the story, can capitalize on your instruction and showcase quality writing.
I just found a website about reading aloud and I love it. It is www.readaloud.org. There are lots of downloads and explanations about how and why to read aloud to your child 15 minutes everyday. Check it out!
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