Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The 5 W's of Read Alouds to Get You Started

The 5 W's (Who, What, Where, When, and Why) of Read Alouds.  The best books to read aloud and a lot more to get your going. Alohamora Open a Book

I feel I have often reviewed books and mentioned they would be a great read aloud.  I say this for teachers mostly b/c teachers are always looking for a good book to read aloud.  However, librarians and parents need good read alouds just as much.

This post is all about the Who, What, Where, When, Why of Read Alouds.  It's something I'm passionate about for many reasons... many of them explained below. 

First, let's start at the beginning, what is a read aloud?  A read aloud is any book that you read aloud to a group of two or more individuals.  That’s a fancy MeganRuth original definition there. :) 

Now onto the W's...

Why Read Aloud:  

Reading is great! Reading to a child is great!  Reading to a child provides two main rewards.  

First, there is an immediate reward. The text pulls us into images and ideas that at the very moment we travel through the words. It's enjoyable and pleasurable.  

Second, there are long-term rewards. The long-term benefits include increased language, vocabulary, comprehension, and thinking skills.  Plus the child gains additional knowledge, experience, and insight which can make them an educated person.

Who to Read Aloud to:

Short answer...Newborns, non-readers, and readers.

An article put out by BBC in 2011 stated that a research study learned that reading to your kids while they are young, even before they go into school, on a regular basis still showed the kids benefiting from being read to when young when they were 15 years old. The teens that we're read to were at least 6 months ahead in reading levels.

So, reading aloud to kids, and even newborns, has huge benefits now and much farther down the road.  Awesome!

Oh, and just b/c your child can read to him/herself does not mean you can't or shouldn't read to them.  Reading a book with a reader not only models good reading to them, but it can expand their interests of books, as well as include all of the other great benefits of reading mentioned above.  

If you have a reluctant reader aka a child that can read but hates reading or doesn't like to do it, reading aloud a book with them can really help light that fire and love for reading.

When I was a teacher, my students always ended up loving the book I read aloud, and they always wanted to read more by that author or read the rest of the series.  Reading aloud a book helps the reluctant and not so reluctant see how wonderful reading is and can be.  

It should be obvious that you should read aloud to your kids, no matter the age or reading ability.  

Where to Read Aloud:

Kids need to be read to at school and at home.   

You can model what good readers do like sounding out words, looking up words you don’t know, make predictions and connections with the text, using context clues to figure something out, and more just by reading anything and everything.  

However, there is something really fun and special reading a book you love (i.e. Harry Potter) to/with your child.  You’ll both benefit far more than either will realize. 

When to Read Aloud:

Obviously, this could be when schedule allows or at any moment, but… There is no time like the present.  

Start today!

What to Read Aloud:

There are so many books you can read aloud, and sometimes that is overwhelming.  However, the following book lists I’ve created before should help:  Plus, I've included some from other websites as a reference for you.  

  • Book list I created a couple of years ago, The Best Read Aloud Books.  This list has picture books, chapter books, and non-fiction books broken down by age.   

  • The Read Aloud “Label” that can be found on the black tab on the right side of the screen comes up with more than 20 posts with books and book lists.  
  • Goodreads has an extensive list of read alouds broken down by genre.  This list is huge and may be overwhelming for some.   
  • A shorter list (38 books) from Buzzfeed. Most of them on this list I think are great, but a few I don't necessarily agree with.

  • There are even books you could check out from your local library with good read aloud lists.  For example:     
    • Silly Books to Read Aloud by Rob Reid (he has many read aloud reference books you could use)
    • Read with Me: Best Books for Preschoolers by Stephanie Zvirin
 Hopefully the above links, lists, and books give you enough resources to get you started, feeling empowered and all knowing.  However, just ask me if you want more of a specialized book list for your circumstance/child/etc. I'm happy to help.  

When I was a teacher I would read aloud picture books for lessons and we always had a chapter book we were reading aloud as a class.  I always loved seeing the students (no matter the age) absolutely mesmerized with the book I was reading aloud.  These moments were some of the reasons why I wanted to get my Masters to become a librarian. 

As a librarian I constantly had to find good read aloud books that would grab kids attention, allow me to model good reading, and go with the topic/lesson I was teaching.  

As a mom, I use good read alouds so I can enjoy the story with my toddlers just as much as they do as well as model good reading habits to my kids. . 

I have even used good read aloud books in church lessons... and the adults all loved it!
There is a lot of power in using a good read aloud.  

Start reading aloud today... please! You will love it!


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