Have you ever considered the importance of read-alouds? Do you remember that special book you wanted your parents to read aloud to you over and over when you were growing up? Do your kiddos have a book they constantly want you to read to them? Is there a book you own that is absolutely worn, tattered, or maybe even falling apart?
Books have an amazing transformative power especially when read aloud. Somehow when the words are spoken, the influence of the story grows exponentially!
The Importance of Read-Alouds
1. They Help Us Create & Remember Special Moments
I was very blessed growing up to have parents who read books to me and my brother every day. We had this one red Bible Storybook that my dad read to us every night before bed. I still have it, and I’ve read those same Bible Stories to my own kids.
This red book is priceless to me because of the memories I made with my family while reading it. The bond that is created over enjoyable books cannot be duplicated any other way!
I also remember my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Ingraham, would read out loud to us every day for a few minutes before school let out. The “Trumpet of the Swan” and “Island of the Blue Dolphins” were two of the stories I vividly recall her reading to us! I always looked forward to what would happen next in our story.
On an unrelated, but interesting note, Mrs. Ingraham wore LOTS of jewelry every day, and I can remember how I much I enjoyed inspecting her red manicured fingernails and glittering jewelry during our read-aloud time. 🙂
But, I digress…
Ultimately, those memorable experiences with read-alouds set the stage for my interest-turned-love of reading and learning.
2. They are for all ages
Have you ever listened to an audiobook? If not, you need to! When I’m listening to one, I am hypnotized by the sound of the reader’s voice as I become immersed in the story.
Believe it or not, every time we listen to an audiobook, we are participating in a read-aloud. And, I found some fascinating information about the benefits of reading aloud for adults!
It may seem odd to think that we, as adults, would enjoy having another person read out loud to us. With the ability to read ourselves, why would we find pleasure in listening to another person read to us?
It’s actually quite simple; we can just relax and immerse ourselves in the plight of the characters.
Children are no different!
Even though my boys are in middle school, I continue to read out loud to them, and they love it. Whenever I get to the end of the chapter or section I’m reading, they beg me to keep reading.
3. They are engaging
When I was a classroom teacher, read-alouds were always times I could count on “relatively” good behavior. Everyone, including the energetic ones, became entranced by the story. Therefore, the typical classroom distractions became null because every child was completely immersed in the story.
Not having to contend with “reading rules” allowed my students to experience the importance of read-alouds. They didn’t have to think about pronunciation, enunciation, inflection, spelling rules, context, and vocabulary; none of those skills mattered more than simply listening and experiencing the story.
As a classroom teacher, you might be thinking, “That sounds so amazing! I would love to read aloud more in my classroom, but I just don’t have time!”
I totally understand.
Most days, I didn’t have much time either. But I discovered some fun alternatives that permitted me to incorporate read-alouds in a new way a bit more often.
Alternatives to Traditional Read-Alouds
My students loved partner read-alouds. They learned so much by hearing other kiddos use appropriate tone and expression when reading out loud.
In the classroom, I liked to strategically partner up struggling readers with more advanced readers. This allowed my struggling readers the opportunity to hear the text read fluently by someone other than me.
To keep things interesting for the kids, I would occasionally allow them to choose their partners. However, from a classroom management standpoint, I had to monitor this closely…as you can imagine.
To eliminate certain discipline issues, partner reading was managed using the same steps every time.
- Partners were given their books or stories, and then they were sent to their assigned reading spots.
- They would sit in EEKK formation (elbow to elbow and knee to knee) and read at a volume only the partner could hear.
- If I heard a voice or voices getting too loud, I would simply call out to the reader(s), and they would bring the volume back down to a manageable level.
Another alternative is child and parent read-alouds at home.
Parents can co-read with their child by taking turns reading portions of the story. This back and forth reading allows them to practice reading while still enjoying listening to mom or dad.
Siblings can also co-read together! This is an excellent bonding experience.
To add a fun twist to co-reading, parents and children take on the roles of the characters in the story and create a dialogue. This offers a more interactive way to read the text.
We used this strategy a lot when my boys were in school and would bring home their basal reading books. They would get bored reading the same story every night, so sometimes we would change it up by reading different parts. (This kept them from hating reading.)
Incorporating reading out loud activities into your daily classroom routine is essential even if it means getting creative. And sharing these alternatives with parents during Open Houses and Parent Teacher Conferences will encourage them to read more with their child at home.
This will help them understand the importance of read-alouds.