Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Interactive Read Aloud

Once in a while when you read an amazing book to your class, the students begin to clap at the end. They are often right that there was something magical in the book that deserves an applause. Our classroom communities grow stronger from experiences like this. Read aloud time should be a sacred time in every class. We can’t underestimate the power of a good book. I can’t think of a better way to motivate a student to read.

Not only is read aloud time enjoyable it is also an important teaching time. During interactive read aloud the teacher selects the books with a teaching purpose.

While the teacher is reading aloud, she could be thinking out loud. The thinking she or he is doing is modeling to students the thinking we want them to be doing. As adults, we know the thinking involved in understanding books, but this is not always visible to young children.


The teacher may also be stopping during parts of the story and having the students turn and talk with one another. We need to provide lots of opportunities to just let students talk. It is essential that the books we select have something rich to talk about. Before the lesson, the teacher should have assigned spots in which students can do their best listening. When reading a story, be careful of not stopping too many times. My principal recently did an interactive read aloud with the staff, and she only stopped twice. Some teachers might be surprised, that stopping a few times would have the same results.

Our goal is to dig deep in the conversation; we want to go beyond sharing just our favorite parts of the book. This may be hard for students, and that is why we are explicitly teaching them speaking and listening skills and holding them accountable for their thinking.


During the reading of the book, the students are on the carpet facing the teacher. When talking about a book, you may want the students to get in a large circle. Once in the circle, another goal is to have students talk without having to raise their hands. Our goal is to support students and to encourage participation. During the week, we designated one day to get in a large circle and talk. 

From experience, in kindergarten getting students to have a conversation in the circle, is tricky to do. The process may feel slow, and you may need to modify the structure to meet the needs of your group, but if you are persistent and patient, it can be accomplished. 


I have recently been modeling interactive read aloud in a third-grade class. The teacher and I have planned lessons in which we return to the same book over the course of a week(three sessions).  

Before my lesson, I have placed Post-its on pages in which I plan to have students TURN and TALK. I often share a little bit about the book before reading and any vocabulary words students may need to know. 

When posing questions to students, I give partnerships, at least, a minute to turn and talk. After students shared their thinking with their partner, a few will share with the whole class. 

On a different day, the classroom teacher returned to this book and talked about the characters and their actions and on another day, the big idea/theme. During each discussion, it was important for students to refer to the evidence in the book. The teacher would record the student's thinking on chart paper. 


1. Select books with engaging plots and touching stories.
2. Pick books where things are happening with the characters.
3. Model Partner talk and have students practice “Turning and Talking.”
4. Model smart, conversational moves, you may have the student get in a fish bowl and act it out.
5. Provide an anchor chart to support thinking.
6. Use the book during reading and writing conferences.
7. Read the book many times, the more we read a story, the better we get to know it like a friend. Students can act out important parts.
8. A "Jot Aloud" is when the teacher models her thinking on a large Post-it.
9. Students could "Stop and Jot or Stop and Sketch" about a part of the story.
10. The teacher could share their thinking about a part of the text by rereading a
part of the text and acting it out.
11. An excellent resource to use for the interactive read aloud is the Continuum of Literacy Learning by Fountas and Pinnell. The Continuum has many sections that address questions we can ask students within the text, beyond the text and about the text.

Joyfully yours in reading and talking about books,


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