YES! I have never met an educator that says "hey, don't do this." Even in higher age groups they are still very important. I do not think a child outgrows being read to. Think of adults: do we like podcasts? Do we like audiobooks? Do we like to hear presentations, even though "we can read."
Each classroom has a does a different tango. What works for us in our environment is not a one size all. Please take our suggestions as guidance, but not a dictating notion of how to do it. There are so many different factors to consider, as well as each school year!
I like to read to a small group of children, instead of a large class. There are times when giving one message is important, and for special occasions we might all read together, but I think it is more reverent in smaller groups. There is something special about a teacher sitting with a small circle of children and everyone feeling like they can contribute to discussion.
I also like to read one book to a small group of children, and then another book to a different group. I don't want to paint the picture that I read the same book three times in one day. If it is a very important book, I might read it to several different groups, but on different days. I think reading one book to a small group and then displaying that book on our shelves, makes the book very special. Some people "heard" it and others will pick it up and read it alone. Maybe one of the students who "heard" it would read it with someone who hasn't and spark the same discussions we had in the group! You never know the magic that comes about planting seeds like this.
Ultimately it depends on your student make-up. If I have self-sufficient and independent readers, reading twice a week is a great pace. If I have a group of students who are working on letter sounds in the lower elementary classroom, I incorporate reading aloud to them every single day.
The biggest mistake I see when it comes to small group read alouds is the reason behind it. I once heard, "it doesn't matter what we do, it's why we're doing it." There was a beautiful example of someone singing Amazing Grace with perfect pitch (but "no soul") and then someone singing Amazing Grace like they just lost everything in their life (and that will blow your mind).
The why matters.
Do not go up to the bookshelf and just "pick something" and then sit down with your students and say, "okay we're doing a read aloud." That is not going to be fun for you and it is not going to be very fun for them.
Instead, the planner I am, I like to plan out several reading books that I want to ensure my students get to hear. I could spend days in the children section of the library and find the most beautiful stories or pictures that I want to show my students. If there are problems going on in the classroom, I try to find books that align to the same problems and spark a discussion with my students! Connecting literature with different subject matters is always a good spark too! If you need help finding books or need a "why," email me!
We make magic happen in the classroom, yes. But let's not stop there. We don't want our students to think "reading is just at school." Encourage the parents of your students to read to their child every single night. I highlight how important it is in school, but even more important at home. This special bond between parents and child, the bridge to learn to love reading, and the encouragement to get read to and try reading new books doesn't come out of thin air! Don't forget to communicate this to parents every opportunity you get! I promise you are not boring the ones who already "do" this, just reinforcing them to keep it going- even on those days they don't get home until 7:00pm from soccer practice.
This is a great question we are often asked. Some books are better to read aloud to lead the conversation and ensure students got the message or moral. There are many great read aloud books! Here is a list we put together!
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