Strategies for Reading Aloud with Children

Reading aloud is an incredibly valuable activity to do with children who are emerging readers. Among the benefits of reading aloud, it exposes a child to rich language, proper grammar and exciting new ideas; it engages and encourages a child’s imagination; it stretches a child’s attention span and ability to focus; it models positive reading behavior; it shows a child that books are worth attention and interest; and it can be fun for both adult and child!

Here are some reading aloud strategies we at SMART provide to our Readers:

  • Encourage the child to get involved in the story by describing pictures and making predictions.
  • Ask questions that require more of a response than yes or no or nodding. (“What do you predict will happen next?”)
  • Ask “what” questions. (“What’s this?” and point to a picture.)
  • Follow the child’s answer with another question. (“What is the dog doing?”)
  • Repeat what the child says and expand on it. (“I think you’re right. The dog is digging under the fence to find his friend.”)
  • Children may be unsure of how to answer an open-ended question. Model the strategies above by making your own predictions and descriptions of the pictures.
  • Help the child as needed.
  • Praise and encourage the child often.
  • Follow the child’s interests when helping choose books.
  • Allow time after each book to discuss what most interested you both about the story.
  • It’s important for pre-readers to notice print, know how to handle a book, and know how to follow the written word on a page. Occasionally point to words as you read so the child knows that words flow from left to right and that the story comes from words rather than pictures.
  • It’s okay to stop in the middle of a book if a child seems uninterested.
  • Children enjoy read-aloud stories that have repeated phrases, familiar songs and patterns. Hearing and reciting the rhyme, repetition, and rhythm of words allows them to begin to remember the words. This is a building block in the complicated process of beginning to read.
  • Leave out the second rhyme in a patterned rhyme book and have the child guess the word that is missing. (“I saw a cat, he was wearing a ____.”)
  • Be creative and have fun. Try reading in character, acting out parts of the book, or other techniques to engage the child in the story.
  • Be patient and encouraging.
  • Don’t overcorrect or interrupt the child.
  • Praise the child for self-correcting.
  • If the book is too frustrating, offer to take turns reading or echo read (you read a phrase, then the child tries it).
  • Some indicators that the text is too hard include having to sound out more than one out of five words or reading very slowly, one word at a time.
  • Be willing to answer any questions the child has while reading.
  • Praise often.