The following is Part 3 of my Final Paper, where I respond to prompts given by my teacher, for my Instructional Practices for Reading Teachers class at Liberty University. Click here for Part 1. Click here for Part 2.
You were asked to address the Young Parents Club in your community. The club members would like you to present information about parents reading aloud to their children. As part of your presentation, you were also asked to share a list of do’s and don’ts for reading aloud. What information will you share with the parents? Discuss the do’s and don’ts list. Be sure to explain why you generated the list.
- Do make reading aloud fun and interesting. Don’t make it into a chore or a punishment.
- Do plan for reading aloud encounters with literature. Don’t take reading aloud lightly.
- Do interact with children while reading. Don’t just read the book through and move on.
- Do read from a wide variety of genres and topics. Don’t read only dramatic literature or only factual texts.
- Do focus on comprehension as well as technical details. Don’t focus on one and neglect the other.
- Do read with expression. Don’t read in a monotone.
Reading aloud is a wonderful way to have fun, enjoyable interactions with books. In light of this, the first “do” I would share with parents is: Do make reading aloud fun and interesting. I would couple that with: don’t make it into a chore or a punishment. Vacca, et al. (2015) stated, “It is neither necessary nor desirable to make the reading-to-children time into a structured lesson. The primary objective is enjoyment” (p. 104). I would clarify this with the fact that it is very important to be intentional and mindful about reading aloud. Do plan for reading aloud encounters with literature. Don’t take reading aloud lightly. Reading aloud to children is “too serious and central” to literacy development “to be treated in an offhand way” (Vacca, et al., 2015, p. 353). For this reason, do interact with your child while reading (Trelease, 2009). Don’t just read the book through and move on. Ask questions as you go along, talk about the illustrations, and answer any questions your child might have. This fosters reading for comprehension and application, not just to absorb the words (Vacca, et al., 2015). Do read from a wide variety of genres and topics (Vacca, et al., 2015). Don’t read only dramatic literature (“stories, drama, and poetry” [Vacca, et al., 2015, p. 349]) or only factual texts (“nonfiction, historical, scientific, and technical readings” [Vacca, et al., 2015, p. 349]); instead strike a balance between the two (Vacca, et al., 2015). This will give children a well-rounded immersion into the world of literature. Reading aloud offers parents and children a good opportunity to encounter a wide variety of literature with a good balance between intentional learning and pleasurable experience.
Reading aloud is an excellent way to foster reading comprehension, model prosody, and teach the technical details words and texts. Do focus on comprehension (understanding of the story/book as a whole) as well as technical details (pronunciation, factual information, vocabulary development). Don’t focus on one and neglect the other. It is not necessary to teach children phonics before teaching them comprehension strategies; instead, teach the two simultaneously (Vacca, et al., 2015). Talk about the big words and show children how the text reads from right to left. Stop at key points in the story and think out loud to model how to comprehend what was read, predict what will happen, and ask questions about the text (Vacca, et al., 2015). Do read with expression—practice reading aloud if necessary (Trelease, 2009). Don’t read in a monotone. Nothing kills excitement and concentration more than a monotone. Vacca, et al. (2015) recommended reading the story through ahead of time to get a feel for the “mood, tone, and action” (p. 104) and also stated, “Don’t be afraid to be dramatic” (p. 104). This is an excellent way to model reading with prosody, or expression. By intentionally following these reading practices, parents can instill in their children a knowledge of the technical aspects of text, an inherent desire for reading for comprehension, and a love of expressive reading.
Trelease, J. (2009). Thirty DO’s to remember when reading aloud (Brochure). Retrieved from http://web.archive.org/web/20130513145607/http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/read-aloud-brochure.pdf
Vacca, J. A., Vacca, R. T., Gove, M. K., Burkey, L. C., Lenhart, L. A., & McKeon, C. A. (2015). Reading & learning to read (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.