January 20, 2010

Reading Aloud: Not Just for Elementary

Here's a great piece on reading aloud to teens by the wonderful Mary Ann Zehr of the Learning the Language blog.

There's this mistaken notion that you shouldn't read out loud to anyone past elementary school or they "won't read on their own."

Phooey on that, I say.

There are many ways and reasons to interact with texts and sometimes reading out loud is the perfect choice. You have read The Read-Aloud Handbook? Jim Trelease was great at admonishing parents to not stop reading out loud to their kids until the kids moved out.

Heck, I like being read to from time to time. Why should it be different for anyone just because they've learned how to read?


Victoria said...

Great to hear someone else think so. We just have to tell the oldest to put down the PSP and the other one to stop illustrating her next book. Our oldest even stopped me last night because he had missed something to make sure he understood. It is a great forum for discussion of so many topics that the book brings up, too.

klonghall said...

I've been shocked at how many ELEMENTARY teachers (let alone Middle School teachers) don't read aloud anymore. They just think they don't have time. So sad! I can tell a real difference when my own children have a teacher who reads aloud every day. They are just so much more excited about books & independent reading.

Michael Taylor said...

I took a US LIT course in college with a focus on plays. We read several plays together and I really enjoyed the discussions that reading it aloud prompted.

Jim said...

Yes, it's a great time just to be together and talk about things that are important to each of you. Other than family meals, when do you get such a golden opportunity to ask/answer questions and reaffirm your values?

Yes, indeed. I've had principals come in to observe me, see I'm reading aloud, and say "I'll come back when you're really teaching." Some think it doesn't relate to the testing but studies actually show that the better the school library and the more the students read and are read to, the better they do on the testing.

Plays are totally meant to be read aloud! I use them with my elementary students because they love them and they're the only thing the kids don't mind reading over and over again (thereby improving their fluency).


vanessa said...

I taught high school English for 5 years and probably the thing my students enjoyed most was when I read to them! They would sit and actually listen and follow along in their books and I would read for the last 10 to 15 minutes of class.

We read through our required reading--Animal Farm, To Kill A Mockingbird, etc, that way. I liked it because the alternative was leaving it up to them to read at home and most of them would just show up at class not having read the assigned chapters.

Reading together allowed us to experience the books together and have discussions along the way. I will definitely continue to read with my daughter even when she is able to read on her own. There is just something special about sharing a book aloud together.

Glad I found your blog!

Jim said...


Sounds like it was a great class. Wish many of my HS teachers had been as cool.

Glad you found my blog as well!


Simcha said...

I've been thinking lately that maybe I should start outloud again to my oldest, who is 8. I haven't been doing so because I was worried it would make him lazy about reading to himself, but I was just remembering a few books that were read to me when I was his age and turned me onto reading, so I think this is something I'm going to start doing again.

Beth said...

My eleven year is is still very enthusiastic about being read to, and he's a voracious reader. My eight year old likes reading picture books to me. I'm over forty and I quite like it.

I remember reading L'Engle's Austin books, and the mom was still reading to all four kids, and I thought that was the greatest thing ever. Maybe I should read my kids the great book about the mom reading to her kids...

Kelly said...

I totally agree. My fifth grader is way above average intellectually and an avid reader, but I still read aloud to him most nights from a chapter book he (or we) are reading. It's just an enjoyable time together.
Also, I'm a former grade school teacher who always had a readaloud going in the classroom. The kids loved it. I'm currently a sub, and I'm surprised (and disappointed) at how many teachers don't do it.

inneedofchocolate said...

Thanks for the link. I can't imagine no longer having read aloud time with my kids as they get older. I taught high school social studies and occasionally worked in a fun read-aloud picture book or I read from a primary source and my students loved it. Our reading time is my favorite together time of the day.

Jim said...

I don't think it'll affect his own reading and even better, if he's not a big reader on his own he'll still be getting a good dose of reading!

Sounds great!

Always glad to hear from HS teacher who read aloud. Wish it was more of a thing.