Family Community Literacy: Modeling with Read Alouds

Reading

The Gist:

Take time, no matter the grade level of your child to read aloud or have them read aloud to you. This can be in the car, waiting in line, before bed, or anywhere a book will travel. Read alouds help build your student’s ability to pronounce new words and models the habits of a good reader. Pausing every once in a while to ask what they thought of what they heard or asking for a summary can strengthen the experience.

The Whole Story:

This one may seem simple at the face of it. Reading aloud to children is a frequent occurrence in many homes right before bedtime. Unfortunately, the bulk of parents cease the tradition before their children have finished developing as readers. Reading aloud to your child need not be relegated to the hour immediately before bed, either.

Here are some quick, easy ideas on how and when to bring read alouds into broader family time.

  • Keep a book with you at all times. Whether waiting in line, at a restaurant for a meal, or in a doctor’s waiting room, take those extra minutes to fit in some family reading time (instead of texting time).
  • Use time in the car as a chance for your child to show off their reading skills. For older students who may be able to read aloud, switch the roles of a read aloud and ask them to read to you while you drive. If your child can’t read on their own yet, check your local or school library for an audio copy of whatever book your reading and have your child follow along.
  • Similar to the above, use moments at home when you might be busy – preparing a meal, loading the washing machine, etc. – to ask your child to read aloud to you to pass the time and get in some practice.
  •  Pull in other family members. Read alouds can be about helping your students learn to read, by including other family members as readers or other listeners, you can help your child see good models of listening and engaging in conversations about reading as well.

Making the Most of Read Alouds:

  • Question. This can either be to ask questions to check to see if your child is comprehending, find out what they think/feel about events in a book, or ask them what questions they have about what’s happening.
  • Model. Especially for readers in elementary and middle school, you can be a great model of reading by thinking aloud as you read or are being read to. Thoughts like, “That’s a difficult word, let me try saying it one piece at a time,” or “That character is similar to another character in the last book we read,” help your child to hear how readers experience texts.
  • Take turns. Whether it’s selecting the next book, reading the next paragraph or deciding when to pause to talk about what you’ve read, take turns with your child so that they can own the reading process as well. If you’re going to model as suggested above, this is a great way to help your child get practice thinking, speaking, and acting like the reader you want them to be.
  • Balance your reading diet. While books of all types are important for your child to investigate, think about many different types of materials to include. If you find an interesting story in a newspaper or online, practice reading aloud with that. Let your child see the variety of reading opportunities available to them.