Print Awareness During Read Alouds

Teacher helping young children learn about print awareness with read aloud

How can you help kids develop print awareness? Here are some sample questions and prompts you can use before, during, and after a read aloud activity to help children activate basic knowledge about print and books.

Prior to reading any story aloud

  • Introduce the story by stating the title, then the author's name and asking students, "What does an author do?" (Students should respond, "Writes the story.").
  • State the illustrator's name and ask, "What does an illustrator do?" (Students should respond, "Draws the pictures.").
  • Hold up the book and say, "This is the front of the book, (turn it sideways and state) and this is the spine." Turn the book to the back cover and state, "This is the back of the book." Then ask, "Do we begin reading from the front or the back of the book?" (Students should respond, "From the front.").
  • "Let's look at the picture on the front."
  • Hold up the book with the front cover facing the students. Ask: "What do you think will happen in this story? Remember, I want you to answer using complete sentences."

Before the reading

  • Select vocabulary words from the story that you need to discuss prior to reading the story. Write them on sentence strips or on the board. Discuss the words with students.
  • Please note the use of open-ended questions that will require the students to give responses that extend beyond Yes/No answers. Remember to use open-ended questions as you read the story and in your discussion after the reading.
  • Encourage students to draw upon what they know about the words from their personal lives. For example, if the word is the verb fish, perhaps some of the children have gone on fishing trips with their parents. Encourage a brief telling of personal stories. Their personal stories allow students to make connections with the text.

During the reading

  • Briefly discuss the pictures on each page after reading that page.
  • Encourage students to guess/predict what will happen next.

After the reading

  • Ask students to tell you if they liked the story and why. Encourage responses in complete sentences. "I liked it when the little girl rescued her friends because it showed that girls can be heroes."
Reading Rockets (2004)


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I wish I was told about this site in college. It explains everything in simple, basic language that is easy to comprehend. I love how this site gives practical teaching ideas and strategies that you can immediately implement in your classroom. Unlike college textbooks that go on and on about educational theories, which does not help you resolve the everyday teaching difficulties that you face.

Looking at the whole word can be broing for right brained children. Have you tried writing words with diffrent colours for each syllable for example the word read-ing. You could use blue for read and red for ing

I have been teaching for 14 years. I have 10 EC kids in my class this year. One of the biggest problems I see is children looking at the 1st letters and guessing ANY word that starts with that letter. Some may be able to give me a great retell with lots of details, but I can't get them to attend to the whole word and they don't seem to notice whend they are reading. We talk a lot about reading for meaning and if it doesn't sound right it probably isn't right and if you never heard that word, it's probably not the right word. What do I do about that? How can I get them to really look at the whole word?

I'm studying to be Education Assistant and am currently doing story reading at my practical placement. This article just gave me some really good tips on how to go about story reading. Thank you!

The article makes you stop and think of the basics when reading to elementary students.

This information should have been taught in my reading methods or LA methods classes. Very helpful!

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