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Topic: Your opinion about reading aloud to children??

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Subject: Your opinion about reading aloud to children??
Date Posted: 10/24/2008 4:49 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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I'd love to have some opinions from teachers about this. I am currently working toward my teaching license for elementary education. I have an instructor who has said on several occasions that there is no reason to read aloud to students once they are fluent readers. In fact, she says there is no evidence that reading aloud benefits any student older than 9 or 10 years old. I have my own opinions but I'd like to hear the opinions of experienced teachers. Thanks!
Subject: Reading Aloud
Date Posted: 10/24/2008 9:17 PM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2008
Posts: 5
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I totally and completely disagree.  I have been a teacher for 16 years: 10 in special ed and 6 teaching 6th grade English.  I just started reading aloud a new book to my classes yesterday.  They absolutely LOVE being read to.  They were begging me to read an extra chapter at the end of class today (and of course I complied).  Reading aloud to kids is great beacuse...

  • It brings literature alive and gets them "in" to the story.  I do all the voices, etc.
  • They see your love of books, which is great modeling.
  • They will want to read the book or others by that author.
  • It's just plain fun!

One of my main goals as an English teacher is to foster a love of books and reading as an activity of pleasure.  Kids have so many things vying for their attention: the Internet,  gaming systems, tv and its 200+ channels, iPods, cellphones, texting.  Who the heck has time to read??  As a teacher, I need to model for them how awesome reading is. 

My son is 10 and his teacher is reading them "Blood on the River."  He loves it so much he made me check it out from the library and now he is reading it to me at night!  Reading aloud has no benefits??  Sorry, I disagree.

Now, I will say, we don't do any "round robin" reading in class where they take turns reading aloud to the whole class.  I find that very tedious and not the best for comprehension.  I do have them read silently to themselves for the most part.  You just have to make sure that the text is at their instructional level. 

Hope that helps!


Date Posted: 10/25/2008 12:40 PM ET
Member Since: 7/24/2007
Posts: 2,269
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I teach elementary school and have yet to find a child who does like to be read to. As far as the comment that read alouds do nothing for fluent readers, I disagree. My own kids still like to be read to. When my oldest was into Harry Potter, she read each book multiple times, but would not read the book herself the first time. She wanted me to read it to her. She cherished the time we spent together and loved to lay on the couch at night and listen to a chapter or 2 (or more).  I have had high school students visit my classroom numerous times and it never fails - when it is time for a read aloud, they sit down on the carpet with the little ones and listen attentively. They have even told the little ones to "Shh!" I cannot say they benefitted from the read aloud, but they did get enjoyment from it. My own kids are avid readers and always have their nose in a book. I think that is because I always read to them, even after they could read themselves.

I had a college professor who took the opposite approach. For one week, we each had to do one children's read aloud and present a brief extension on the book. It was for a grade. At the end of the week, all the professor had to say was, "who did not enjoy the read alouds?" We could all read, but we all enjoyed the read alouds even though they were children's books. I don't think we ever loose that comfort and enjoyment that a read aloud can provide.  Don't we want our students to learn that books are enjoyable? They will never become avid readers themselves if they cant get enjoyment from books.

One of the Middle Schools in the area does a read aloud day every year. The kids (6th-8th grade) bring blankets and stuffed animals, are served hot chocolate, and are literally read to in each period. Sometimes by the teacher, sometimes by the principal, sometimes a guest reader ranging from local business people to preachers to celebrities. 2 of my children have already experienced the day and it stands out as a highlight of their educational experience.

Subject: Read Read Read
Date Posted: 10/25/2008 10:20 PM ET
Member Since: 10/12/2008
Posts: 467
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Don't listen to that teacher. Read to those kids.  The other thing is that you are modelling a behavior you want them to have. I understand that this next can be difficult but managed properly (by allowing kids to say pass without any judgement attached) it has great benefits. If you can have them read aloud too at some time. It can be difficult but they learn inflection, and comprehension can really be enhanced.

Date Posted: 10/26/2008 12:29 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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Thank you so much for confirming my own beliefs! I am a HUGE proponent of reading aloud. My son (who is in 5th) is an avid and fluent reader but I still read to him several times a week. I know that my third grade teacher instilled a love of reading in me because she read aloud to us every single day for 15 minutes at the end of the day. Joan Aiken's "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase" is still one of my favorite childhood books!
Date Posted: 10/26/2008 9:25 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2007
Posts: 16
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I do it for several reasons. Learning how to listen is an important lifeskill. It takes concentration and imagination to think about what you have heard. Second, it expands their vocabulary. Third, it models how to read with inflection and proper pausing. This in turn, helps with comprehension and with punctuation (hearing where the commas and periods SHOULD go).  Lastly, it opens their horizons to books they would never have chosen to read and might read in the future.So by all means, read, read, read.


I can't tell you the number of times I have started a book that many students were against, yet once they learn to get over the hump of the first chapters they love enough to take out and read on their own because they want to know the ending!

Date Posted: 10/26/2008 10:07 AM ET
Member Since: 11/6/2005
Posts: 642
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I teach writing...I consider it a part of writing class to read to them from poetry, trade books, and novels!  On top of that, the kids AND I really enjoy it.  It exposes them to ideas(City of Ember, People of Sparks, Harry Potter) and situations they might not be exposed to.  It encourages kids to read on their own...I just finished reading "Little Wolf's Book of Badness" to my third graders - several of them are reading the rest of the books in the series.  How can you say it's not effective when fifth graders beg you to check an author's site (Cressida Cowell - we had read three of her books) to see if the next book in the series would be out before the end of the school year so I would have a chance to read it to them?

I think she has read research on the subject adn possibly interpretted the findings in a very narrow way. (Or it may have been a very narrow study in and of itself.)  I tell my graduate students that I am going to present the research and the findings...they don't have to agree...and I wouldn't agree with her assertations.  Many instructors heard "it doesn't help kids to read on their own" in the booklet put out by the government "Reading Isn't Rocket Science" (@2000) and stopped right there.  Students weren't encouraged to read other than for academic reasons - of course the results were predictable - their reading skills didn't improve.  The instructors  didn't continue to the further discussion stating that "It doesn't help kids to read on their own without guidance."  My point - use common sense when interpretting research. Is there further information available, are their studies that contridict the results,has the researcher done FURTHER research in the area?

I encourage you to read to your kids - for reading, writing, science, math, social studies, and FUN!

Last Edited on: 10/26/08 10:10 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/27/2008 6:55 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2007
Posts: 29
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Ooooh One of my soapboxes!  I heartily disagree with the professor who says reading aloud is not necessary.  It is vital to foster a child's excitement of reading, fluency modeling, stress relief etc. etc.  If you want a really heated view on the subject, go to Mem Fox's website and see what she has to say about it.  She wrote an entire book about the necessity of reading aloud to children.  I read it and found that she gave words to why I think reading aloud is important.

Date Posted: 10/29/2008 1:49 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2006
Posts: 2,303
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Mem Fox on reading aloud (especially "how"): http://www.memfox.com/reading-magic-and-do-it-like-this/

Date Posted: 10/29/2008 10:34 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
Posts: 456
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Last year during state testing, I missed all my morning classes, and none of us wanted our afternoon classes to get ahead by a week.  Another teacher in my department told me that she was reading the book Soldier's Heart to her PM classes (we both teach 6th grade Social Studies) to her students, so I decided to do the same.  Both my afternoon classes were pretty wild bunches last year, but they listen so attentively to the story for that week, much more so than I had ever expected (so attentively that when I suddenly yelled out "BOOM" in one chapter, half of them jumped! :-P).  After that week, we started our unit on the Civil War, so they could relate to the things they remembered from the story.  Plus, I had a number of classified and ESL students in those classes, so they weren't at the disadvantage they would have been if they had to read the story on their own. I'm so glad that I did that, rather than popping in a video for the week.  I plan on doing that this year during the state testing week, though I now teach 8th grade in the PM, so I don't know if they'd listen as nicely as the 6th grade did.  We'll see...

I can see where reading aloud to the kids (and having them read aloud) is a good idea.  I also teach 8th grade and I have them read things aloud sometimes, and I am shocked by the simple words they stumble over, words that I would bet they glaze over when they read silently. 

You can also use higher-level texts when reading aloud to the students.  I used to teach World History at the high school level, and sometimes I read a few things out to my middle school students that I used to use with my older students.  These are primary sources or other brief texts that are slightly above their reading level, but by getting exposed to it (I usually have a copy for them to follow along with, but not always), they are at least getting exposed to these harder readings.  I had my 8th grade read a few excepts from The Epic of Gilgamesh aloud to each other because when they read it silently, they didn't get it, but by hearing it read in their small groups, they understood it and were able to get exposed to a harder level reading than I would normally use.  Reading those few pages was much more beneficial to them than me just summarizing the story the way their textbook does.

Last Edited on: 10/29/08 10:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/30/2008 9:38 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2008
Posts: 3,574
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I work in an afterschool program in a disadvantaged area. The kids in my group do not like being read to. But They have not been 'mine' very long yet. I read to them. They need to have attention spans and behavoir, and those are really why they don't like being read to, I am confident that when we get those down they will love it. One thing I did notice - the class had some 'rewritten children's classics' when I got there. Nice, leather bound sets - I did not immedeatly notice they were 'reworded' editions. The kids could not sit still for them. The kids were right - these were terrible. What's the point of reading Mark Twain if the irpressible voice of Mark Twain is gone? (well, by evidence of the 'rewritten classics', I guess it's not really all that irrpressible, is it?) I am horrified that my third through fifth graders are not reading chapter books on their own yet. I read to them so I can make them hungry for that kind of reading.
Date Posted: 11/2/2008 4:07 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2008
Posts: 117
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I absolutely agree with everything Mel H said.  Most of my students enjoy being read to, even when they have read the book themselves.  There are many teachers in my school who read to their students and the kids love it.  I remember many of the books my teachers read to me when I was going through school and enjoyed that time being read to.

Date Posted: 11/3/2008 11:18 PM ET
Member Since: 2/1/2007
Posts: 208
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As a retired teacher, I agree with all of the reasons everyone has given for reading aloud to children of all ages.

In addition, to the obvious reasons, it is a way to expose kids to good writing techniques, a way to make grammar, mechanics, writing more interesting.  I used to read elementary level books to my middle school kids to expose them to writers' techniques such as point of view.. First of all, the books were short in length, low in vocabulary level, and fun to read.  Every child, no matter his reading or experience level could be reached.  The particular skill became easier to understand in that format.


But, perhaps, most of all, it lets them know that reading is important at every stage of life.

Date Posted: 11/22/2008 8:28 PM ET
Member Since: 10/9/2006
Posts: 88
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I heard at some convention I attended many years ago that by reading texts above the child's reading level helped prepare his brain for the next levels.  I read aloud because it was fun.  Thanks for the link to the Mem Fox site: great words to explain my feelings!  All those read aloud books become common ground and shared memories for the students.  With my own sons, my reading aloud taugh them the proper pronunciation for words they came across in their own reading. 

There is one downside to being a wonderful reader, though; I get asked to read Scripture at church all the time.