|Getting Started in Early Literacy With
Read aloud is an important part of the day in every early
childhood classroom. It affords the teacher an invaluable
opportunity to establish an environment for literacy
learning to take place in his/her classroom. It enables the
teacher to demonstrate a love of books, words, stories,
poems, and discovery of new ideas and knowledge. As the
teacher reads, he/she models intonation, phrasing, reading
with understanding, and making observations, comments, and
connections. (S) He invites students to do the same by
posing open-ended questions and responding enthusiastically
to student responses. Children learn that reading is part of
everyday social interaction. Read aloud provides your
students with a common experience over which they can bond!
They can begin to form friendships based on their
discussions and responses to books read aloud in class. Love
of reading becomes infectious!
Selecting a Read Aloud:
Read Aloud selections should be slightly above the reading
level of the children. Books are chosen for the quality of
their writing, age appropriateness, and relevance to the
curriculum and literacy needs of the children.
Sharon Taberski's On Solid Ground (Heinemann,
2000) provides some excellent suggestions on how to select
Read Alouds to demonstrate specific strategies for whole
class instruction. She provides a list of books that can be
used to teach these strategies.
I would suggest that all books be previewed for their
teaching points. It is helpful to practice reading the books
aloud as well. In general, Read Aloud selections teach
- Read for information
- Read for enjoyment and pleasure
- Read for meaning: character, plot, setting, theme
- Appreciate author's style and use of language
- Make predictions based on text, knowledge of story,
- Become social and bond with others
- Share responses to literature
- Make connections to literature
- Refer back to the text to substantiate ideas
- Acquire skills and strategies: decoding, cueing
systems, and self-monitoring and correcting, using
semantic, syntactic and visual cues as required by the
- Connect to other curriculum areas
Modeling Book Talks with Read Alouds:
If children are to learn to bond with others through books
and to love reading, they need to learn to talk about books
in a thoughtful and enlightened way. Read Aloud is an
excellent time to model how people discuss and connect to
You might want to choose a book you love and that you think
the children will enjoy. Start your lesson by sharing your
thoughts and feelings for the book: "I want to read one of
my favorite books to you today. I love it because the
author.. " Give a reason why you are fond of the book
without revealing too much about it. As you read the book,
invite children to comment about the text and illustrations.
Respond to the text in a natural and excited way yourself.
Make comments and ask the children to make predictions at
key points in the text. Model for them making predictions
based on the text so that they learn to do this early on.
Generate a list of starters for comments on chart paper and
hang it in the Read Aloud area. Model them for your students
and practice their use.
- This part reminds me of.
- This character reminds me of.
- This author reminds me of.
- I see a similarity between this book and the author's
- I remember when something like that happened to me.
- I always think of ____ when I read this part.
- My favorite part is when___ because.
- I love the part when.
- My favorite part is when the character says.
- I could really connect to this character because.
- I could visualize.
- When I read that part I saw..
- The author uses words and phrases that created images
in my mind.
- I figured out the setting from the part when the
- The author gave us clues to the characters.
- I liked when the author.
Some Suggested Titles to Get Started
At the beginning of the school year I like to start a
collection of books I enjoy that will help my students
adjust to school and make friends with other students in the
class. After I finish a book I allow it to be taken home or
be shared by two or more students. What follows is a list of
some books you might want to use to get started with read
Miss Nelson is Missing-Harry Allard and James
Arthur Series-Marc Brown
Hey! Get Off Our Train-John Burningham
Eric Carle books
In the Tall, Tall Grass-Denise Fleming
Barnyard Banter-Denise Fleming
Best Friends for Frances-Russell Hoban
Bread and Jam for Frances-Russell Hoban
Ezra Jack Keats books
Miss Spider's Tea Party-David Kirk
Miss Spider's ABC-David Kirk
Frog and Toad series-Arnold Lobel
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie-Laura Joffee
David Goes to School-David Shannon
A Bad Case of Stripes-David Shannon
The Hating Book-Charlotte Zolotow