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Tips for Reading Aloud to Kids: Home

Why Read Aloud?

Continuing to Read Aloud with Older Children

Everyone knows the importance of reading aloud to emerging readers. However, reading aloud remains important as children become independent readers. Reading aloud enables independent readers to:

  • build vocabulary
  • foster discussion of various issues such as social concerns, values and politics
  • broaden their interests in literature, discovering new genres, authors, and topics

    Benefits of Reading Aloud

    What Are the Benefits of Reading Aloud?

    An Instructional Format for College-Age Learners

     

    Evidence-based benefits:

    • Reading aloud creates a classroom community by establishing a known text that can be used as

    the basis for building on critical thinking skills that are related and unrelated to reading.

    • Discussions generated by reading aloud can be used to encourage listeners to construct

    meanings, connect ideas and experiences across texts, use their prior knowledge, and question

    unfamiliar words from the text.

    • Reading aloud gives students an opportunity to hear the instructor model fluency and expression in reading technical or literary language. “Through intonation, expression, and attention to punctuation, the reader demonstrates meaning embedded in the text.”
    • Reading aloud develops adaptive expertise. Routine expertise relies on automated recall of

    memorized declarative knowledge but adaptive expertise depends on the acquisition of

    meaningful knowledge. That is, knowledge organized through connections to other knowledge.

    An adaptive expert synthesizes knowledge groups to make meaning in new ways to solve

    unexpected or novel problems. (Hatano 1988).

    • Reading aloud helps students learn how to use language to make sense of the world; it improves

    their information processing skills, vocabulary, and comprehension.

    • Reading aloud targets the skills of audio learners. Research has shown that teachers who read

    aloud motivate students to read.

    General concepts found here are drawn from Patricia McGee’s “The Instructional Value of Storytelling,” which she prepared under the auspices of the United States Air Force, Human Effectiveness Directorate, Warfighting Readiness Research Division. Hatano,G (1988) “Social and Motivational Bases for Mathematical Understanding” in Children's Mathematics, ed.  GB Saxe, M. Gearhart.

     

    Anecdotal (experiential) benefits:

    • Reading aloud to students both slows down and simultaneously intensifies the classroom

    experience. In a world of sound bites and half-formed ideas expressed quickly in electronic

    formats, students benefit from hearing complete ideas, expressed with originality and attention,

    such as one finds in literary language.

    • Reading aloud facilitates narrative transport –a state characterized by absorption into a story’s

    narrative flow; the listener may forget her surroundings and engage her visual, auditory,

    kinesthetic and emotional sense, and may experience a sense of time distortion. This is a

    qualitatively altered state that is supportive of active and deeper learning.

    • Reading aloud helps students develop good listening habits. The value of listening within an

    instructional dialog may not be fully appreciated in our fast-past, digitally accessible, media saturated, action-oriented culture. Active listening fosters contemplation and reflection, without

    which students may collect information, yet fail to gain knowledge.

    • Telling stories from disparate points of view helps the reader and student to grasp a bigger

    picture and anticipate variables that may not be discernible when approached from a single

    perspective.

    • Reading aloud provides quick and easy assessment of student comprehension. One of the most

    basic tests of comprehension is to ask someone to read aloud form a book. It reveals far more

    than whether the reader understands the words. It reveals how far into the words – and the

    pattern of the words – the reader really sees. Reading aloud recaptures the physicality of words.

    Subject Guide

    Rhonda Donaldson's picture
    Rhonda Donaldson
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    Shepherdstown, WV 25443

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