The Art of the Read Aloud

By Guest Blogger Pearl Dean Garden, Instructional Specialist

I am forever in search of my dissertation topic, and as a doctoral student, I read a lot. I am interested in finding information on using the read-aloud to teach, model, and reinforce reading skills and strategies. I read an article titled: “Interactive read alouds: Is there a common set of implementation practices?” (Fisher, Douglas. 2004). The article was written about a study done with 25 expert teachers doing read alouds with their students. The article detailed seven things expert teachers consistently did when reading aloud to students. This article intrigued me because I love reading aloud to children and it confirmed some of the things I was already doing. It did spark some questions that I intend to explore in the next few years of my pursuit of this doctorate and in my work with teachers:

  1. Do children learn the vocabulary words that are included in the read-aloud books more fully than other vocabulary words they are taught?
  2. Does using the read-aloud to teach vocabulary help increase their word knowledge?

As a classroom teacher I used the read-aloud to model fluent reading. But the more I did it, the more I realized that I could also model key reading skills and strategies. My classroom data told me that I needed to strengthen my vocabulary instruction and the read-aloud gave me one more opportunity to do just that. I choose books intentionally and read through them to see where I could add good questions, what words I could highlight, and how I could provide opportunities for students to talk about what they were thinking. I did this and I noticed that the students were truly enjoying what I was reading, so much so that they wanted to read the books after I had finished.

I am now a K-2 Instructional Specialist and I see the art of the read-aloud is becoming lost. In talking with some of the teachers I work with I hear “I don’t have time.” Or “I have to prepare for this test.” I do have some teachers who use them, but not with the intentionality with which they could be used. I have created some mini lessons with some of my favorite children’s books to model for my teachers how they can be intentional with reading books so that they can feel free to use more than the basal to teach reading. I want to bring the art of the read-aloud back and give teachers this extra tool to use in classroom instruction because there is so much that can be done with it.

Pearl Dean Garden is a K-2 Instructional Specialist in Dallas, Texas. She has been in education at the elementary level for 20 years. She is currently also a third-year doctoral student at Texas A&M- Commerce.

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