Why Should You Read Aloud to your Students? - Guest post from Reading Toward the Stars

Happy Saturday, everyone!  It's Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars.  I am visiting Bex's blog today as many of us get geared up for a new school year!  Bex is over today at my blog with some fun activities for you!  Hop on over when you finish here!

This summer has been a whirlwind, and I have taken a lot of time to do some much needed reading.  Most of it has been for pleasure, but I have taken the time to read a bit of professional books.  One in particular that I enjoyed and was recommended to me was The Fluent Reader by Tim Rasinski.  I have a passion for fluency as a Reading Specialist, and this is one that is an easy read.
Earlier this summer I wrote a post about why I read aloud to my children because a friend of mine mentioned that she never had.  She is a teacher, and I was really surprised by it.  I thought about how it affected my own children as they are growing as readers and wrote a quick post about it.  But, what about in the classroom?  How does it affect children in the classroom?   I picked up my book and dug a little deeper.

I am sure most of you read aloud to your students in the classroom, especially in the lower grades.  I always did after lunch or recess to kind of calm my students back down.  I was really surprised to read that students all the way through middle school should engage in read alouds. 

Reading aloud to students has so many more benefits that we don't always think about.  All of us know that it helps to foster a love of reading, allowing us to help students discover new books or genres.  But, what else is there?  Read on to see!

1.  It improves comprehension and vocabulary.  That is probably a no-brainer too, but how?  While reading The Fluent Reader, I read that "the level of vocabulary in story books for preschoolers is at approximately the same level as speech between college students."  WhAt?  I read books to my two and a half year old and had never thought of that!  But, think about some of those books we love to read:  Skippyjon Jones, Curious George, Knuffle Bunny, and the list goes on!  I was reading Knuffle Bunny to my little girl the the other night, and it has the word "realized" in it.  Now, how often do we use that word with our kindergarten students?  A new vocabulary word is right there!

You can do so much with the comprehension piece of this too!  Just asking questions or predicting while reading is a wonderful way to help students with their comprehension.  So many times teachers just read aloud to read aloud and move on, but we need to challenge our students to really think about what they are reading.  I have created some simple prompting cards to help with discussion of any fiction book before, during, or after a read aloud.  These can be done orally with partners, or the students can write about them in a log.  These are perfect for any grade level, just modify as needed.
Click {here} or on the picture for your freebie!
 But don't stop reading now!  There are so many more reasons that reading aloud is wonderful for children!

2.  It increases fluency.  I am sure that is a no brainer!  When students hear us reading, they hear what good readers should sound like.  They hear our expression, intonation, phrasing, and pauses at appropriate points.  I remember one year during a read aloud when a student asked me how I was able to know what to read before turning the page.  I told her I was able to predict the next word as I read because it made sense.  She started trying to do the same thing with great success!  I love making voices for the characters too.  One of my friends is a first grade teacher and invites me to read in her room often just so she can hear me talk like the characters.

3.  It builds motivation.  Since the students enjoy the read aloud time, they will be more likely to pick up a book they will enjoy and read it.  One year I had a classroom of mostly boys, so I picked out some great boy books like  How to Eat Fried Worms and read it to them. Well, they loved it and all read it themselves.  I also have started out with a series book the students may enjoy but have never picked up and read it to them.  Then, it is so funny to watch them in the library as they fight over that series of books.  Now that is motivation!

There are so many wonderful books to read aloud with your students!  Think about some of your favorites:  Ramona, Junie B. Jones, Geronimo Stilton, Charlotte's Web, The Narnia Series and start from there.  Look at some of the Newberry or Caldecott awards of past years. Ask your librarian or Reading Specialist for some good ideas for read alouds!  I will leave you with a few of my favorite picture book read alouds for Back to School!  They will take to you Amazon where you can find out a little more about them.
Head on over to my blog and check out the musings of Bex!

Thanks, Bex for having me on your blog today!  It was a pleasure!

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