Read Alouds – Are They Worth It?

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               Reading aloud, Paper Things, by Jennifer Richards Jacobson. Kids cutting out their own paper things while I read aloud.

Let’s scream from the mountain tops, “YES!” Read alouds are worth IT and more. In my graduate class, Reading Development and Instruction, I chose to research read aloud time as a strategy for improving reading abilities. What I found out was that research validates the absolute value of classroom teachers (and parents) reading aloud to children of all ages. Let me say that again, research shows that there are a number of positive outcomes from reading aloud to children of ALL ages. Feeling pleasantly surprised is an understatement of how I felt when I read that over and over again.

Many teachers discuss how the continual addition of demands on us and our students have factored into the the whittling away of read aloud time in many classrooms. Most teachers I speak with find this as incredibly sad as I do. Even if reading aloud didn’t do anything to improve reading abilities, it is an essential tool for creating a literate classroom community. But reading aloud does aid in students’ ability to read. Let’s take motivation for beginners. Research shows, over and over again, that reading aloud to children motivates them to want to read. I must say that I see that. I have noticed year after year that reading aloud is instrumental in motivating children to want to read fictional chapter books. Not all, but many. Some children are motivated to read informational text. Fine by me.  Research also says that reading aloud improves vocabulary, word attack skills, and deeper comprehension due to the fact that the teacher models her or his thinking during reading aloud as well as asks deep, meaningful questions that requires the kids to think deeply and cite evidence from the text to support their thinking.

And read aloud time is fun. It’s fun for the students and it’s fun for the teacher. It’s fun to talk to kids about what’s being read. It’s fun to listen to their thinking. It’s fun to see their reactions when you get to a surprising part or a deeply moving part of the book. It’s fun to just stop producing work and enjoy the calming feeling of having a caring adult read aloud. My kids love read aloud and I bet I’m far from the only teacher who witnesses this.

So, please, whether you are a kindergarten teacher or a 5th grade teacher , or a middle school or even high school teacher… read to your kids. I guarantee they will benefit from it as much as they and you will love it.

What are you reading aloud to your kids?
Mary

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