Reading aloud

There’s power in words. There is even more power in words that are strung together to tell a story. Stories reveal truths, encourage exploration, generate curiosity, and more. They become a connective tissue between time, people, cultures, and experiences.

There’s special power in a story shared aloud.

A few weeks ago, I witnessed an author reading to an all-adult audience. The specifics don’t matter as much as what I witnessed. Not a sound could be heard in the auditorium of over 300. The only sound was the author’s voice weaving a tale that held listeners rapt.

James Ransome and Lesa Cline-Ransome have been writing and illustrating together and individually for many years. And their work continues to grow and evolve. Perhaps James said it best: “What makes illustrating books so exciting is that because each book has a special voice, my approach toward each is different. Whether it be through my choice of palette, design or perspective, there is always a desire to experiment and explore what makes each book unique.”

Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome

Bringing guest readers into the classroom is a great activity any time of year. But the calendar is also full of opportunities for hosting special guests who read aloud. Many of these — including World Read Aloud Day, National African American Read-In, and NEA’s Read Across America — are coming up soon.

This may be the season for celebrations, family travel, and out-of-town guests, but it is also a great time of year to engage kids in all kinds of joyful and meaningful learning experiences. To help make the most of winter break, Reading Rockets’ sister project, Start with a Book provides parents and caring adults with ideas and activities for fun and meaningful interactions around books and things of kid interest.

Teacher question:

Story can do a lot to inspire kids to engage with the natural world. What can you do to get kids outside? Kit Ballenger has some ideas that all start with a book!

What do you see when you look at an American flag? What do its colors, stars and stripes call to mind?

“Blue sky/White Stars …”, red and white rows evoke more than simply a flag. It can represent a country’s landscape, its history, and most important, the people who together create one nation, beautiful in their diversity.

Parents play a major role in stimulating developing minds and building literacy skills and children who read aloud with their parents reap numerous benefits. But for children and parents who are physically separated, it is difficult to read aloud together and build bonds around books. Our friends at United Through Reading share how establishing reading routines help support summer reading, particularly for those families who face the challenge of military deployment.

We’re in the dog days of summer. Not many questions coming in right now — normal for periods when schools aren’t in session. But the following query came to me this week from Ireland via Twitter.

Teacher question:

Any link to how the Repeated Reading strategy works? How long text can be repeated, how long can text be, depends on accuracy? 

Shanahan’s response:

Bedtime books come in all styles, sizes, and mediums; some rhyme, others tell stories. Some do both. In other words, there’s something for everyone. Add the sharing and books become even more individualized.

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"When I say to a parent, "read to a child", I don't want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate. " — Mem Fox