Using read-aloud tips and strategies, educators should model enthusiasm for books and reading. Both educators, and ultimately parents, play a strong role in ensuring that their young preschoolers are engaged during read aloud time.
Tips on How to Read Aloud
Think about your style of speaking. If you know that you speak quickly, for example, make an effort to slow down when you read. Conversely, speeding up a little if you tend to speak and read slowly can help keep a child engaged. Read with expression, buy stay within your comfort zone. If you are uncomfortable trying something new, your child will be too.
If you find your child losing interest feel free to skip paragraphs, paraphrase or, in some cases, stop. Remember, the object is to make your sessions fun and enjoyable. You can always come back to that story another time if you feel it is worthwhile.
Other Read Aloud Tips for Holding Interest
- Invite your partner to guess what will happen next
- Supply a repeated word or phrase
- Share reading turns if he or she is able and comfortable with reading aloud
- Vary the story lengths and the type of book
- Allow “wigglers” to move about on the floor while you read (as long as they are quiet and attentive)
- Invite restless preschoolers to draw or work on a puzzle while you read.
Invite children who want to share in reading aloud to do so, but do not require them to “sound it out” or “practice silent reading.” Instead, you are modeling enthusiasm for books and reading for your young preschoolers.
Tips on Choosing Read Alouds
- When choosing books, strike a balance between following the children’s preferences and inviting some of them to try new types of books. Some children can never hear too many dinosaur stories, others may love fairy books. Follow their lead, but also introduce an occasional book of a different sort to expand the children’s horizons and spark new interests. Say “This looks like a good story. Let’s give it a try!” This can be the beginning of exciting new discoveries. If the children express disappointment, however, either verbally or in body language, move on to something else.
- Try to also read books that speak to different family ethnic backgrounds or family situations. Use the backgrounds of your ELLs (English language learners) to guide you. It is reassuring to hear about people from one’s own ethnic group. It is also interesting of course, to hear about other peoples and places.
- Do not hesitate to repeat children’s favorite stories. By hearing a story again and again, soon even a little child is able to “read” it by heart and feel like a reader.
- From time to time, read stories just out of your child’s skill range. Younger children enjoy listening to books beyond their own reading skills and older preschoolers enjoy revisiting a good book even if it is well below their skill or age level.
- Expand your choices beyond commonly held views of “boy” and “girl” books. Well written and interesting stories will hold the attention of children, whatever the subject or the gender of the central character.
Teaching Read-Aloud Tips: What to Avoid
- Be cautious about reading scary stories until you know the child well enough to gauge whether he or she would enjoy them. Many five-year-olds and older children like the ghoulish, but others are genuinely traumatized by certain stories. Beware, especially, of frightening illustrations. Adults often remember being truly frightened in childhood by a picture in a book.
- Watch for television or film versions of good children’s books. Some media version may be too violent and not captivating for a young reader.
Remember, good read-alouds should foster early literacy, so you’ll want to model your enthusiasm for books and reading for the children. Keep creating enjoyable, participatory literacy experiences that nourish a child’s growth as a reader and writer.