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Read Alouds

What are read alouds and what can they do for instruction?

A read aloud is a planned oral reading of a book or print excerpt, usually related to a theme or topic of study. The read aloud can be used to engage the student listener while developing background knowledge, increasing comprehension skills, and fostering critical thinking. A read aloud can be used to model the use of reading strategies that aid in comprehension.

Reading aloud good books can become a tradition and favorite activity in the classroom. (An excellent site for information on read alouds is located at: http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/rah.html) The Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA) maintains a library of articles about using read alouds for engagement and comprehension in their archives. http://www.google.com/u/ciera?q=read+alouds&domains=ciera.org&sitesearch=ciera.org

Benefits of using read alouds

One of the most important things adults can do in preparing children for success in school and in reading is to read aloud with them.

Why read alouds in science?

Science-related literature, especially non-fiction, is often an untapped resource for read aloud book selections. By choosing well-written, engaging science books, teachers provide the opportunity to introduce students to new genres of literature at the same time as they model reading and thinking strategies that foster critical thinking.

Science-related books motivate students. Whether emergent readers or avid readers, children often select nature and science books as their favorite genre of literature.

Read alouds can inspire the teacher, too. Often early childhood or elementary teachers are uncomfortable with teaching science. They know there should be more to their instruction than the textbook, but they do not feel like 'experts' in the science content or process. Using read alouds can complement the curriculum and help students make connections between their knowledge, the textbook and their own questions.

Read alouds can be used to

Using a read aloud-think aloud

For example, Donna Dieckman reads books such as A Snake Scientist or Elephant Woman to invite her students into the field with working scientists and to explore the questions and the challenges they encounter in their work. As she reads, she pauses to reflect aloud on her wonderings, which in turn both model and inspire wonderings in her students.

(See also Two Models of a Read Aloud-- Think Aloud based on 1999 Caldecott Medal Winner Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.

Selecting the read aloud

Knowing the authors

Become familiar with the authors by gathering background information. Many authors of science-related literature have interesting backgrounds that may inspire students in their own scientific or literary endeavors.

Selected sites:
Jim Arnosky
Jean Craighead George
Gail Gibbons
Patricia Lauber
Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
Laurence Pringle
Seymour Simon

Planning the read aloud

How do I read aloud effectively?

Creating the read aloud atmosphere

Reading aloud does not come naturally, but don't despair. Practicing will make it much more comfortable. And the time spent practicing is definitely worthwhile. CAUTION: Do not read a book aloud that you have not read yourself beforehand!

Ready to read

All materials featured on this site are the property of the Elementary Science Integration Projects (ESIP) and/or their respective authors, and may not be reproduced or distributed in any form, printed or electronic, without express written permission.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 9912078. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.