When people make the time to read with children, children get the message that reading is important. Make the read aloud experience a great one for you and for your listeners!

School kids sitting on floor in front of teacher

Find out something about who is going to hear you read. Knowing whether the second-grade class has a number of English-language learners or that the fifth-grader you’ll be reading to has an unusually short attention span should influence your selections when choosing read aloud material.

Choose a book that you like and will enjoy reading aloud. Before you share a book by reading it aloud, read it yourself—several times if possible. This helps prepare you for kids’ questions, gives you the ability to easily move the book around so that kids’ can see any illustrations, and lets you polish your act with appropriate pauses, silly voices, and apt facial expressions.

Come prepared with more than one selection to read. Some books might not connect with your listeners. If so, don’t force the issue. Just acknowledge that the book isn’t going over well and try another title. The other reason to have plenty of books in your repertoire is equally important: you may be called for an encore!

Make sure both you and your audience are comfortable. Your audience isn’t going to be happy if they can’t see the pictures and neither will you. Dress for the possibility of sitting on the floor or in a child-size chair.

Don’t read too fast. Or too long. You’ll lose your audience. Consider the listening skills of your audience when choosing your books to share.  

Give credit where credit is due. Before you start reading, be sure to point out the title, author, and illustrator of the book you are about to read. This helps kids learn new authors and build their own list of favorites.

Get help in making your reading selections. Teachers and librarians can offer excellent suggestions. Look to Read Across America for recommendations of stories that lead to lots of conversation. Find additional guidance in choosing great read alouds from Reading Rockets. 

Help kids relate to the book. You selected the book for a reason. Share your thoughts about why you like the book and why you think they might find it interesting and enjoyable too.

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Recommended Books

The world—and books—are filled with many different kinds of people. Getting to know them is interesting, exciting, and fun! NEA’s Read Across America has great booklists to help you discover terrific titles to read aloud to engage and inspire your students.

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