How we model reading aloud to children
When teachers read aloud to their class, we want them to be modelling what fluent reading looks like, demonstrating accuracy, automaticity, and prosody. In addition to this, we want teachers to show enthusiasm, curiosity and understanding of what they are reading. In short, our teachers need to show children how expert readers decode and comprehend.
The table below outlines some of the strategies that teachers can employ in order to model this expert reading to children.
Practise, Practise, Practise
Make sure you have practised reading the book aloud before reading to the children. This will give you the opportunity to think about the intonation you will use, which voices you will use for each character, to portray their personality. The style of voice you use will have to be maintained through the whole story for the children to listen and understand.
Prepare ahead of time
Take notes on important points that you would like to discuss with the children. Highlight specific vocabulary you think will need to be implicitly explained to the children. Make notes on where you would like to pause and explain a certain part of the story.
Introduce the book
Look at the title, cover, blurb and illustrations. Ask the children to predict what the book may be about and make links to already-told stories.
Introduce, reinforce or extend children’s understanding of the topic of the book. Link the themes in the book with children’s background knowledge, learning they have been completing in the classroom, and to the wider world.
As well as thinking about the questions you may ask the children, have pause points for the children to ask any questions they may have. This is to clarify understanding and deepen discussion around the book. Encourage children to make predictions on what you have read, about what might happen next.
Get in the flow
Try not to stop too many times. The magic of the story will come alive if you keep the flow. Children need to listen to a fluent retelling of the story, modelling how they should be reading books. Read with expression - vary your pace to allow time for children to think about what is coming next.
Memorable words and phrases
Emphasise memorable words and phrases. These will feed into children’s vocabulary and awareness of the syntax of literary texts and increase their comprehension. Use phrases from the story later in different contexts, when children know the story well.
Be authentic when you are reading. Share your thought process with the children. Think about what you would say when particular events happen in the story:
‘I can’t believe he did that!’ ‘Oh, my goodness. He’s not happy.’ ‘Whatever will he do next?’
Ensure you are in a good position where all of the children can see the book but can also see what your face and mouth are doing when you are reading.
Choose the illustrations you would like to talk about with the children that may have an impact on the theme or events. Give the children enough time to really look at the illustrations and comment on anything they may see.
Do not be afraid to share with the children when you do not understand something. This may be the meaning of a word or an event in the story. Share with them how you might find out the answer; work together to solve the problem.
Save time for reactions
Ask the children what they thought of the story. Ask open-ended questions to encourage discussion about particular characters and events. Make links back to familiar stories you have read in the classroom.
Have recommendations for other books that are similar.
‘If you like this book then you could read…….’
This is an opportunity for you to show children how much fun reading book can be. Take the opportunity to be a reading teacher and enjoy the books you read with the children.