Read Aloud Tips

9 Tips for a Spectacular Read-Aloud


1. Let the child take ownership of the book. 

Allow the child to pick the book, hold the book and maybe even make up his own story to go along with the pictures.
 
2. Make it interactive. 
Interact with the child while you read.  An example would be to establish that every time you read the word "quack" each child should clap his hands like a duck bill. Another example is to find a picture book that is an illustration of a popular song or finger play and sing the song before, during or after the reading. Or if the child knows the story well, let her fill in the last word in a sentence or a rhyme.
 
3. Create different voices for different characters. 
You might feel goofy, but the child will love even the most feeble attempts. Grandpa characters should have low, creaky voices; mice characters can be high pitched. Get creative.
 
4. Vary your pitch and rate of reading to match the mood. 
Varied pitch keeps listeners’ interest (how many times have you sat in a really boring meeting with a monotone speaker?), but it also makes it easier to understand words and new vocabulary. For example, what if you read the sentence “Jack cheerfully picked a flower” in a slow and sad voice? A child who had not yet learned what cheerfully means would probably think it is a slow and sad word. 
 
5. Do not underestimate the value of physical contact (per program regulations and personal boundaries). 
This is especially effective for toddlers. Many times what the child loves just as much as the actual story is that rare, valuable one-on-one time with an adult. Let the toddler sit on your lap or put an arm around your five-year-old.
 
6. Do not underestimate the value of repetition. 
Sure, you’re sick of the 99th repetition of "Cat in the Hat," but repetition is how your child is learning to understand the content. 
 
7. Talk about the book as you read. 
Pause and ask questions; point out things the child may not have noticed. 
 
8. Track.
 “Tracking,” or pointing to the words you read as you read them, has been shown to be a valuable way to help the child stay focused on the words and also make mental connections between what she is hearing and what she is seeing. 
 
9. Lastly and most importantly, enjoy what you are reading. 
In the words of Mem Fox, children’s book writer and literacy expert, “If teachers don’t love to read why on earth should children?” The same is true for parents, teachers, volunteers--it is true for you. Have fun. Love the moment. And let yourself and the child get lost in a really excellent story.
 
Information for these tips compiled from several different sources, as well as the author’s personal experience.