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Top Strategies for Reading Aloud

Bethany Edwards

Columnist, Multicultural Education at the Parent Voice, Magazine
Bethany is an elementary teacher/reading specialist from San Diego, California and has taught internationally in Turkmenistan, Egypt, Ukraine, Latvia, and Mauritania. Read more under "Columnists."

Latest posts by Bethany Edwards (see all)

As you read from my previous column, my goal is to teach literacy through quality and diverse literature for you and your family to enjoy together. I want you to have the best reading strategies out there for teaching the children in your life how to read and how to view the world.

Through the following strategies for reading aloud, as well as recommendations for quality and multicultural literature for children, you will hopefully be able to connect reading instruction with empathy for all cultures through books, cultural experiences, and learning multiple languages.

Top Strategies for Reading Aloud

If you read with a child under three, the most common question you will find parents and educators asking while reading is “what’s that?”  Today, I want to give you a host of questions to ask while reading that is more diverse than “what’s that?” to keep a child’s attention during a reading session. Here is a list of questions to ask children while reading aloud to keep children (and parents) interested in the amazing and multicultural books you have at home.

Questions to Ask Babies and Toddlers while Reading Aloud

For babies and toddlers, the key to reading is building vocabulary. For example, if there is a red block in the book, point to the block and ask a question: “Do you like red blocks or green blocks better?” Tell him the answer for now: “I think you like the red block more than the green block because you like to play with the red block.” Eventually, your child will respond independently and you can celebrate!

Questions to Ask Pre-Schoolers while Reading Aloud

With older children (age 2-5), it is easy to fall into the I-R-E Pattern trap.  Even many educators are guilty because it is natural to want to lead the reading session with very young children.

The IRE pattern is when the adult initiates a question, the child responds, and the adult evaluates the response.

 

Many adults fall into this trap when reading aloud to pre-schoolers. Find out more. Click To Tweet

Research shows that this pattern used with children all the way through high school is not effective in growing comprehension.  Conversations that are sustained by the child taking turns asking questions, speaking on the topic are far more successful. Children are just like adults in that they need real conversations about books to fall in love with them, not just artificial or topical ones.

(click to print this PDF of questions to ask children while reading aloud)

Do’s and Don’ts Read Aloud Checklist

  • Start slow; begin with books with only a few words on a page and work your way up to more text
  • Always read the author/illustrator no matter if you have read the book once or 100 times
  • Do a picture walk before reading the book
  • Choose books occasionally that is over your child’s instructional level to challenge them
  • Don’t start reading before your child is calm. Take a few minutes of down time when transitioning from playing to reading. They need time to focus their minds and bodies.
  • Create a positive mood and atmosphere
  • Sit in a chair or place that allows your child to easily see the book and the pictures
  • Practice, practice, practice. (Most adults are not gifted storytellers naturally; this is an important skill to enhance)
  • SLOW down and give adequate wait time!
  • Don’t choose a title that you won’t enjoy yourself.
  • Don’t choose a book that you feel is not appropriate for your child intellectually, socially, or emotionally. All children mature at different paces.
  • And you may laugh, but… Don’t fall asleep while reading to your child. 🙂 Slap some water on your face or have a cup of coffee next to you, but stay the course!
  • My personal pet peeve; Do not under any circumstance use reading a book as a consequence. Don’t threaten not to read for misbehavior. If your child needs a consequence for their actions, find another strategy besides taking away reading. This will only set them up for a negative experience with reading which is the exact opposite of what you want or need for your child.
  • Don’t keep reading a book that was a poor choice or boring your child. Admit the mistake and choose something else instead of insisting your child sit through it to the end.  (You can avoid this most times by pre-reading the book yourself.)
  • Do choose books that are culturally responsive.Do not under any circumstance use reading a book as a consequence. Read more. Click To Tweet

    Questions to Ask After Reading Aloud

When you finish a book, the first question you will most likely ask is “Did you like it? or “Was that a good book?”.

These are all valid questions but do not elicit more than one-word answers.  At first, your baby will only be able to repeat your answers, so you want to make them count.  You are building the blocks of language by giving them more than one-word answer questions, even if you answer them yourself for the first year or so. As a child gets older, they are very capable of higher order thinking.

The Importance of Reading Aloud

I highly encourage teaching kids to read without a boring or dry curriculum but through authentic learning strategies.  For many parents, there is a lot of guesswork out of cultivating a love of books in children right from birth. Every child deserves the right to an education, and to experience the joy of learning to read.  You can explore these read aloud strategies with children 0-5 years old to give kids the reading magic right from birth.

Read Your World

I want to support and encourage you with literacy first and foremost. My goal is to engage kids with the best reading strategies out there. However, choosing quality books or resources that are diverse and multicultural to teach kids to read is the ultimate goal. Through acquiring more books to teach geography, cultural traditions, disabilities, religion, race, and others, you and your family will hopefully feel a little more interconnected to the world than you were before. Read on for more great multicultural resources reading and literacy.

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Bethany Edwards

Columnist, Multicultural Education at the Parent Voice, Magazine
Bethany is an elementary teacher/reading specialist from San Diego, California and has taught internationally in Turkmenistan, Egypt, Ukraine, Latvia, and Mauritania. Read more under "Columnists."

Latest posts by Bethany Edwards (see all)

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Bethany is an elementary teacher/reading specialist from San Diego, California and has taught internationally in Turkmenistan, Egypt, Ukraine, Latvia, and Mauritania. Read more under “Columnists.”

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