"You have to hear it before you can speak it, and you have to speak it before you can read it. Reading happens through the ear." Wow! Jim Trelease (the read-aloud guru) has said that a child's listening level doesn't catch up to their reading level until about eighth grade. That "gap" is the magic space we teachers have to inspire readers, introduce new vocabulary and show them that there is REALLY great stuff out there to read!
I found this particularly true of my third grade students when the Harry Potter books came out. The first book was much too hard for many of my students, but once I read it aloud in class many better readers could hardly wait to dive in and read it for themselves. Those who were struggling set it as their goal and they really worked to be able to read it for themselves. How? I told them the only way to become a better reader was to read more. And they did!
Why read aloud?
1. Students can wade into complicated subjects and have experiences beyond their years. Oral reading gives students the opportunity for discussions, not with only the teacher, but with each other. In fact, they learn life lessons.
2. Reading aloud is a terrific way to introduce students to new subjects within the content areas. For example, if you are studying the Civil War, try Give Me Wings: How a Choir of Former Slaves Took on the World by Kathy Lowing. The list is enless.
3. Research shows that reading aloud with older readers actually increases scores on standardized tests. The Commission on Reading said, "the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success is reading aloud to children." Talk about a way to meet the Common Core! This is it!
4. Reading aloud introduces students to books they would never have thought about reading, genres they didn't know were interesting, and authors they can grow to love.
5. Reading aloud increases a student's desire to read independently.
6. When teachers read aloud they demonstrate fluency. Using voices when reading makes the story real, and when a difficult word is encountered the teacher can demonstrate how she determins the meaning from the text.
7. Oral reading helps the writing process. If you want good writers in your classroom, read good books to them.
8. Its enjoyable. My students' favorite time of the day was after lunch when we all sat down together to hear the next installment of our shared book.
Below are some great lists of books to read aloud to students, I hope you find the perfect one to read next! Enjoy!!
Read-Aloud America (for books k-12)