Children’s Bookroom: Reading Aloud

narrative-794978_640 (1)Reading aloud to a child is significant to their development in becoming a fluent reader. It builds a strong reading foundation and background knowledge. In addition, it introduces vocabulary and provides a model for fluency and expression. However, when we think of reading aloud, we often envision reading to young children. It might be interesting to know that upper elementary, middle, and high school students enjoy read alouds, too!

As a retired teacher-librarian and reading teacher, I often encouraged teachers to bring their upper grade students to the library for story time. I selected books of interest to students and if requested, I chose books based on classroom themes or topics. Moreover, my reading students, without a doubt loved the downtime from reading instruction. They hung on to every word I read and would protest when our 10-15 minutes of reading time was over for the morning.

I also recall some years ago, when my daughter read the book, Beowulf in high school for her English literature class. Beowulf, writer unknown, is the longest epic poem and deemed as the earliest important work of literature in English, even though it was written in Old English. This story depicts a classic tale of triumph of good over evil. Nevertheless, my daughter had trouble reading and comprehending some parts of the book.

When I suggested I read the book aloud to my daughter, she told me that she was far past the age of my reading to her. I explained the advantages of my reading aloud. One benefit would allow her to free her mind without having to concentrate on decoding words. My reasoning did not sway my daughter. Imagine my surprise when a few days later, she asked if I would read aloud to her. With a swiftness, I picked up the book and started reading! As a result, discussions occurred which helped my daughter to better comprehend and read the text.

Like my daughter, reading aloud to upper elementary, middle, and high school students places struggling and even fluent readers in a risk-free environment and allows them to listen and enjoy a story. Dr. Janet Allen, well known literacy advocate, states that the person decoding while reading aloud offers students an opportunity to concentrate on the enjoyment of language and the visual images that language generates. In her text, Yellow Brick Roads, Dr. Allen provides a list of many reasons and methods for reading to older students.

Parents, teachers, librarians, and literacy advocates, let us start today in reading aloud to our tweens and teens. Select books with a compelling plot that include characters children can identify with. To your amazement, I am positive they will take pleasure from this motivational reading strategy and I believe you will too!

Read Aloud Recommendations:
• Grades 5-6: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
The Dumbest Idea Ever by Jimmy Gownley
• Grades 7-8: Theodore Boone: The Fugitive by John Grisham
Jade Green: A Ghost Story by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
• Grades 9-12: Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Allen, Janet, 2000. Yellow Brick Roads: Shared and Guided Paths to Independent Reading 4-12.                  Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.

Thanks for stopping by and I invite you to join me week after next as I continue to explore literacy topics and issues affecting children.

Vanessa Fortenberry,
Retired Teacher-Librarian
M.Ed., Media
Ed.S., Media
Reading Endorsement