Reading Aloud

When we read aloud to students, we expand their imaginations, provide new knowledge, support language acquisition, build vocabulary, and promote reading as a worthwhile, enjoyable activity.
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Teaching Strategies:
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How Can You Make It Happen?

Reading aloud can be done with students from preschool through high school, making reading an enjoyable part of the day. When students within one classroom are reading on different levels, and therefore reading different texts, reading aloud a common book can help to create a classroom community with shared experiences. A text that is read aloud provides a base from which to discuss themes and ideas or to model reading and thinking strategies.

Guidelines for Choosing Texts to Read Aloud

Any text is suitable for reading aloud: books, poems, newspaper or magazine articles, or anything else that is interesting and engaging.

  • Choose texts that match your instructional goals.

  • Keep students' hobbies and maturity and reading levels in mind, and choose texts that most of the class might be interested in.

  • Read texts from all subjects, including science articles, math word problems, historical accounts, biographies, literature, and so on.

  • Increase the complexity of the texts as the year progresses.

Guidelines for Reading Aloud

Any text that is chosen to be read aloud should be thoroughly reviewed by the adult reading the text and familiar enough to be read with expression and meaning.

  • Start by reading aloud for 10 minutes each day, beginning with fairly simple texts and moving to more difficult material. As students' attention spans grow, lengthen the read-aloud time.

  • Be clear about your purpose of having students read aloud. If the purpose is to have students perform for the class or increase their fluency, then provide time for students to practice.

  • Read with expression and show enthusiasm about the texts you read. Be dramatic: Use different voices for different characters, whisper scary parts, read quickly and loudly during exciting parts, and so on.

  • Discuss the text's language and events and students' responses. By choosing the breaks carefully, you can create logical stopping places to take questions or comments. Have students turn to a neighbor to share their thoughts, or have a whole class discussion.

  • To help develop critical thinking, ask questions before, during, and after reading, such as:

    • "What is the problem here?"

    • "What do you think will happen next?"

    • "What would you do in this situation?"

    • "Why did you like or dislike the resolution?"

    • "What is the most important part of the text?"

    • "How would you summarize this chapter?"

  • Having students read aloud for the purpose of assessing reading skills and monitoring reading strategies should be done in an environment that is safe and will promote students' self-esteem. Having students read consecutive paragraphs aloud for the first time or "round robin reading" may not be the best ways to improve student comprehension.

  • Reading aloud is only one component in a balanced literacy program and should not replace the time students spend reading silently.

How Can You Stretch Students' Thinking?

Teachers may combine reading aloud with a companion technique, the Think-Aloud Strategy, verbally modeling the thinking that goes on during active reading.

Older students can read aloud to younger students after practicing with text until they are confident. Provide a safe environment, and do not force students to read aloud if they are not willing. Ensure enough practice so the reading is fluent, expressive, and successful.

You may read passages of difficult texts while students follow along or take notes. Since students can listen at a higher level than they can read, hearing the text allows them to process the information using a different learning style. It also provides modeling for phrasing and pronunciation of difficult texts.

When Can You Use It?


Reading aloud can be used to develop story structure, increase vocabulary, and provide students with material for higher-level discussions. Several versions of a story, such as Cinderella, can be read aloud in order to do a comparative analysis, or several stories by one author can be read aloud before an author study.


Students can write about texts that have been read to them and make connections to their prior knowledge and other texts. Students' writing can also be read aloud to determine if the writing needs revisions or clarification.


Read word-problems aloud so that students can focus on the problem's meaning before they try to find the answer. Biographies of mathematicians or stories about new mathematical theories can be read aloud to students to help them gain a better understanding of the processes used by mathematicians. For example, during a study of the development of hyperbolas, parabolas, and ellipses, a teacher or student may read an article about Hypatia, one of the first female mathematicians.

Social Studies

You can read aloud and discuss with students primary documents or speeches that relate to the time period being studied.


Read aloud news articles or scientific journal articles that relate to the science topic being studied. Students can read along and then discuss the article's vocabulary or content.

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