5 Essential Tips for Teaching with Read Alouds

Read alouds can do so much for our students. They can listen to fluent reading, learn about new authors, hear our thinking about vocabulary, character development, plot, and more. So which books make the best read alouds and how can we use them effectively? In this post, I share ten titles I love and how I use them.

Read alouds can do so much for our students. They can listen to fluent reading, learn about new authors, hear our thinking about vocabulary, character development, plot, and more. So which books make the best read alouds and how can we use them effectively? Today, I am going to share ten titles I love and how I use them.

Create a Culture of Reading with Read Alouds

Read alouds can build interest when used for modeling. Students love hearing their teacher read aloud. If the teacher chooses to share just part of a book periodically, it can be a teaser to entice the kids to finish it. Teachers can also highlight specific authors. If authors who have published a long list of books are chosen, some books can be left for independent reading. I’ve done this with several author studies, and I’ve always enjoyed hearing the kids comments as they find other titles.

Who Should Read Aloud?

So who should read aloud?  Everyone…teachers, parents, and kids!  Why? Well, there are some books that are just meant to be heard orally. One of my favorite memories of read alouds with my own children was with Trumpet of the Swan by EB White. We took a long road trip, and listened to the audiobook in the car. The kids just loved it, and so did my husband and I. We’ve since enjoyed lots of audiobooks on similar trips, and truly, it’s a great way to enjoy the stories AND pass the time. 

Benefits of Read Alouds

Use Read Alouds to Work on Fluency

First of all, we model fluent reading when we read aloud.  It gives our students an opportunity to hear what good reading sounds like.  When you’re reading read alouds, we should talk about the importance of phrasing, expression, and rate (we slow down for important parts and speed up for less important parts).

Mentor Text Lessons

Another benefit of using read alouds is to model comprehension skills.  Some books lend themselves well to specific skills.  If you search reading comprehension or mentor texts on my site, you can find a listing of recommended books and the skills I’ve taught with them.

Read Alouds Build Schema

In addition to comprehension skills, read alouds provide an opportunity for stretching our students thinking. For students who haven’t traveled or experienced going to a farm say, we can share books to show them. This builds schema and prepares the students to read books that are currently too hard.

Read Alouds Extend Learning

Another benefit is to expand your content area units with read alouds. Sharing nonfiction books  can provide another exposure to information students may be studying in science and social studies.  Read alouds should be just above what your students can read with support as this expands vocabulary too.

Use Mentor Texts for Writing

Finally, read alouds or mentor texts showcase writing traits that we want our students to imitate. For recommended read alouds by writing trait, search my site for the six writing traits for a detailed list of titles.

Reading Alouds I Love

First Grade

For first grade, I recently came across Brian Lies’ Bat series including Bats at the Beach, Bats at the Library, and Bats at the Ballgame.  I love the playful language Lies uses.  Children at this age love rhyme, and they’re curious about bats.  I love pairing fiction and nonfiction, so you could share these and move into researching bats with nonfiction titles.

original-617596-1-1501734Another favorite for first is Karma Wilson’s Bear series.  I love how she weaves into the story juicy words.  She doesn’t flood students with too many but includes maybe 6-8 in the book. I love the themes of this series too. They include friendship, dealing with sickness and greed.  

I have done reading units on this series. If you’re a first-grade teacher, you might check them out.  The activities included are great for modeling comprehension skills for your students. The materials would work well in print or projected on a Smartboard.  Like the Bat books, the bear books could lead to nonfiction about bears too.

Other authors for first grade I love include: Lois Ehlert, Syd Hoff, and Ezra Jack Keats.

Second Grade

In second, students are beginning to transition into beginning chapter books. Personally, I think it’s important to not jump into chapter books so quickly ourselves. Author studies in second grade are just so fun!  My favorite second-grade authors Eve Bunting, Kevin Henkes, Cynthia Rylant, Arnold Lobel, Mem Fox, and Leo Lionni.

Since many of the books these authors write are within the range of a second grader, it works well to choose one or two books by the author as a read aloud for modeling strategies,  and then use the rest for skill practice in guided reading groups. The authors I have done materials for can be accessed by clicking the author names above which will take you to the materials.

Third through Fifth Grade

Students in third through fifth are becoming more independent in their reading.  They’re able to read silently, and oral fluency is really picking up speed.  From the reading perspective, the read alouds help polish phrasing and expression.  Again, the goal with read alouds can be to extend content area information, expose the students to authors whose books they should consider reading, for skill modeling, and for writer’s craft. Here are a few ideas for each grade.

Jan Brett:

Jan Brett’s books are written between a 3rd and 4th grade level. They work well as read alouds for younger grades as well. The comprehension skills included in this bundle are geared more to 3rd/4th grades, but could also be used for skill modeling. Although Jan Brett is typically thought of as a “winter author”, she does have a quite a few books for any time of year. Certainly, she’s one author every child should love.

Patricia Polacco:

Patricia Polacco is another favorite. I’ve mentioned before, but the fact that she did not learn to read until she was in her teens and was able to overcome such challenges to publish these amazing books is such an inspiration to children everywhere who face learning struggles. This author study bundle includes unit materials for thirteen different titles.

Other Favorite Picture Book Authors:

If you need other options in the upper grades, be sure to check out books by William Steig, Patricia Maclachlan, Gail Gibbons, Chris VanAllsburg, Kadir Nelson, Aaron Reynolds, Pam Munoz Ryan, and Tomie dePaola too. Plus, I’ve done many mentor text links ups where we’ve highlighted wonderful title. I’ll share a few of those links below.

Chapter Book Authors:

For chapter book read aloud, I’m a huge fan of Kate diCamillo. I love Because of Winn Dixie and the Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  Roald Dahl is another that fully captures readers.  James and the Giant Peach includes amazing vocabulary and is the perfect choice to highlight word choice and writer’s craft.  The Brian Series (Hatchet, Brian’s Winter, Brian’s Return) certainly are page-turners whether the reader is a boy or a girl.  Gary Paulsen is also very interesting to research.  Katherine Patterson, Katherine Applegate, and Sharon Creech are quite popular for upper elementary. Finally, I’ll add Rick Riordan, Eoin Colfer, Suzanne Collins, and Kwame Alexander.

Wow, there are just too many to highlight! What are your favorites?  Share your comments below.
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Read alouds can do so much for our students. They can listen to fluent reading, learn about new authors, hear our thinking about vocabulary, character development, plot, and more. So which books make the best read alouds and how can we use them effectively? In this post, I share ten titles I love and how I use them.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Carla

    Oh I found it on TPTs…can't take credit. I was amazed at how many animal print materials I could find. I can't wait to decorate my room this year because of it. I was in yesterday, and a wooden stool was left in the "don't need it anymore" area, so I snagged it and am going to paint it up for my sharing chair. I will post about that on another day.

  2. Tara

    Wow! Thanks for sharing! Love the theme for your class this year!

  3. Carla

    Hoping to get in and get started putting it together next week. I arranged some furniture, but that's about it. So much more to do. Oh well…it'll get done.

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