This semester, students in READ 6310 were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Dalia Gutierrez

Read aloud helps promote literacy and learning for young children. Many Read Alouds are important because it helps them acquire the information and skills they need to succeed in school. This helps children realize certain things in literature such as the meaning of words, and being able to enjoy reading in general.

When reading to children the teacher must make sure that the children feel safe and secure. The teacher must read with enthusiasm so the children can enjoy being read to; this promotes children to be more interested in reading.

The Read Aloud offers the students explanations to their questions, and also helps them make observations. Teachers often talk about the background of the story to inform the children and to discuss the character’s actions in relation to what they are doing in class.

It seems though that parents who Read Aloud to their children are able to quickly and more effectively asses their children’s ability to comprehend words, and while doing this the parent and the child are able to bond more. Children like to hear exciting books to enhance their imagination and as well as their vocabulary. Young children thrive on repetition, so he may want to hear the same book numerous times. This will help build vocabulary and reading skills. Involving a child in the selection process also helps him build confidence and self-esteem.

An effective way of helping the child understand words and looking at the words is for the parent to guide with their finger under the word so that the child could get a better understanding of what the word means. The parent could use sound effects to set the mood for the story, and different sound effects to describe the characters’ way of behaving such as making a deeper voice for someone who’s angry or a soft voice for caring person. All of these contribute to the children’s understanding of emotions within the book in relation to life.

A picture book is very helpful when conducting a Read Aloud. The parent can then have the child participate, for example, hearing what the child has to say about the picture or give a prediction to what may happen next. Finally, parents should come up with their own stories to set a positive influence in the child. With the parent telling their own story this lets the child learn new vocabulary. In turn the child should be allowed to tell their own story using the new vocabulary they were taught. This makes Reading Aloud exhilarating for them.

Both educators and parents play a strong role in ensuring that young readers are engaged during read aloud time.

Think about your style of speaking. If you know you speak quickly, try to make an effort to slow down when you read. Conversely, speeding up a little if you tend to speak and read slowly can help keep a child engaged. Read with expression, but stay within your comfort zone. If you are uncomfortable trying something new, your child will be too.

( How Educators and Parents Can Sustain Interest by Dorit Sasson)

As a Center Manager of Head Start it is very important to get our three and four years old children engage in reading. Each classroom is set up with a Library and the teachers have trained our parents how to check books out on weekly basis so they can read to their children for fifteen minutes every day. Implementing the read aloud at a very young age will give the child the learning foundation needed to do well in the public school.


Parents Set the Course for Success!

This semester in READ 6310 Children’s and Adolescent Literature, students were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Solis

Reading is an important part of your children’s development and should start at home. Begin reading to your children from day one—it is never too early to begin. Your children will enjoy the rhythm of your voice and the comfort of your arms as you read. You do not have to wait for them to start school and you do not have to stop once they have started school.

Why should you read to your children? Reading to your children has tremendous benefits. It encourages language development, it helps build vocabulary, it supports literacy skills, it creates a bond between you and your children, and it helps your children recognize and experience reading for pleasure.

Where can you find inexpensive books? You may find free or inexpensive books at your local library, garage sales, flea markets, discount stores, and/or books stores. There are always sales!

What type of books should you use? For infant and toddlers, use board books. Board books have thick pages which makes it easier for them to turn. In addition, board books can be wiped clean and endure a nibble or two. For older toddlers, use interactive books such as lift-the-flap and/or with textures.

What type of genres should you read? It is best to expose your children to a variety of books. There are assortments of genres to choose from: picture books, picture story books, folktales, fairy tales, fables, legends, myths, historical fiction, modern fantasies, realistic fiction, poetry and drama, biographies, and multicultural books.

What types of genres are best? They are all beneficial. However, begin reading picture books. As your children begin to grow older, introduce books that are of interest to them.   Then you may gradually present different genres. If your children do not like a particular type of book—it is okay. Move on to another genre and try reintroducing the books they did not like at a later time.

What books should you select? Select books that reflect your children’s interests. The best way to find out is to ask or observe. You may also select books to help generate interest in a particular topic.

For infants and toddlers, select books with: rich illustrations that help support the text, simple rhyming, repetitive phrases, and a cumulative story.

For older children, make selecting books to read fun. Turn the experience into an adventure. Go to your local library and hunt for books together. Rummage through boxes at garage sales and flea markets to find suitable books. Search through shelves at different stores for interesting and inexpensive books.

How often and how long should you read? Read to your children every day. Make it a routine. Read to them at the same time, preferably at bed time. Be sensitive to their attention spans. You do not have to read the whole selection and you do not have to read word for word. Build up to at least 15 minutes per day. The key is not to force it upon them—remember it is supposed to be a pleasurable experience.

Read to your children. Begin early, do it every day, and enjoy the experience. Set the course for success!

Read Aloud

This semester, students in READ 3325.20B were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

by Jazmin Villarreal and Eliana Contreras

Read aloud, I believe, is the single most important thing you can do to help a child prepare for reading and learning. Read aloud can help children build literacy skills, language development, brain development, instill a love of reading and children can experience knowledge gained and shared. Reading is vital, pleasurable and valued by children as well as adults because it is informative and we can all learn something new by reading aloud.

ElianaRead aloud is recognized as an important activity that leads to literacy acquisition. It builds word-sound awareness in children which is a prognosticator of reading success. Read aloud to young children are not only one of the best activities to stimulate language and cognitive skills but it also builds motivation, curiosity, and memory (Bardige, B. and Paul H Brookes, 2009). It is said that children who fall seriously behind in critical early reading skills have fewer opportunities to practice reading.

Read aloud helps children develop positive relations, like for example when a parent or teacher reads aloud to a child it gives them one to one attention and encourages children to get associated with books and reading. It also helps children build a stronger foundation for school which is important because once a child starts school, difficulty with reading leads to failure in school for some children because they feel left out or don’t comprehend what is going on.

It also exposes children to story and print knowledge as well as words and ideas not found on day to day bases. Read aloud also exposes and gives children the opportunity to practice listening which is really crucial when it comes to small children.

Reading aloud can also stimulate their imaginations and emotions, by them listening to the teacher read.  It’s impressive when a teacher has the children interact with the reading all these ideas that they can come up with. It also models good reading behavior to students, by the way the teacher reads with emotions, and pauses.  Many time teachers can expose students to different range of literature, to enrich their vocabulary and understand sophisticated language patters.  When the students receive different range of literature the students makes difficult text understandable.

The techniques that we have learned in class are to choose the books that address the class reading level.  Before reading the books consider how to make the points out to the students in a successful process.  The most important one is that the reading chosen fits the overall curriculum.

It is also important for teachers to mark their text to remind themselves where they will need to pause and think aloud, or where they will have students interact with the text. That way the students will feel the flow of the reading, so that their environment can be as much comfortable as possible.  Teachers can also let the students choose their read aloud that way they will know that their interest matter.  Read aloud supports independent reading and can also encourage a lifelong enjoyment of reading.

Read alouds in ALL subjects!

This semester students in READ 6310 were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By M. Guerra

I always assumed that only teachers in the early childhood grades would use read alouds.  It is thanks to taking this course I have understood and valued reading for what it’s truly worth.  A book can be read aloud to any grade level; it is up to the teacher to choose what is adequate enough for his or her students.

Choosing a book title can be rather tricky if you have no idea where to start.  In my first year teaching, I would randomly choose any book that looked good enough to read to my first graders. Throughout the years, I have changed my ways of selecting books.  Many books can be found to connect to all subjects.

 During Math time, our curriculum has a big book which is used in introducing the new math topic.  Along with this big book, I highly recommend teachers to find books that correlate with the skill being taught.  Several books can be used for different math skills.  One of my personal favorites is Fat Frogs on a Skinny Log by Sara Riches.  This book can be used for number counting, addition and even subtraction.  My students were very intrigued during this read aloud.  One can truly change a story simply by changing their voice and adding excitement to what may happen.

Teaching Science can either be very interesting or boring to students.  Many students need to have visuals, videos, books and hands on experiences in order to truly learn what is being taught.  In our animal unit, first grade students must learn about the life cycle of certain animals.  The Life Cycle of a Frog by Lisa Trumbauer really helps to introduce how frogs develop.  Many students who have no idea how a frog is developed will learn just by hearing you read this book.

The Kite from Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel is a selection from our Texas Treasures basal.  This story is a fiction story about a Frog and Toad who try to fly a kite.  It is quite an adventure seeing them try and try again.  I always introduce this story by having a very dramatic read aloud.  My students get super excited and laugh at how Frog and Toad don’t give up.  Mid week after reading and discussing this story we make a connection to our Science unit and compare the life of a real frog to that of Frog and Toad.

 As you can tell literature can be used in all subjects.  Some books can be read aloud for introducing, teaching and even entertaining.  Using a wide variety of literature exposes our students to the wonderful world of reading.  Take advantage of read alouds by showing expression to your students. It can be a simple expression that will intrigue a young reader to want more.

Getting High School Students to Enjoy Reading

This semester students in READ 6310 were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Ann Velarde (Slusher)

As everyone knows, getting students to read is a very difficult task. Since I teach high school students, I have stopped and asked myself whether it is too late to get my students to find reading enjoyable. The challenge that I gave myself after the STAAR test was over was to get my students to read. It has been two weeks since I have started introducing new approaches to literacy and I have had many challenges, but also some successes.

 baseballThe first approach that I implemented is read alouds. There are several things that I want to accomplish through these read a louds. First, I am introducing various cultures through the stories that I read. I started with a chapter in Gary Soto’s book Baseball in April.  I read about a third of the story and realized that it wasn’t going very well. I honestly don’t think that my students knew how to react to me reading to them, so I simply stopped and told them that we would continue the story tomorrow.  I knew I had to regroup. The next day I had copies of the story for each student to follow along. This worked so much better. After I finished reading, we discussed the story and many students made connections to the characters. 

grandfatherThe second story that I read to them was a picture book called Grandfather’s Journey, which is about an Asian man who comes to America, but still missed his homeland. My students loved it! Even though the characters were Asian, many could relate to the feeling that they had regarding America and their birth place. I also read a short story by Anne Estevis from her book Down Garrapata Road titled “The Prisoner.” The conversations that my students had were so rich that they were still talking about it as they were walking out of my classroom. Needless to say, that put a smile on my face all day!

voicesToday, I let my students choose someone to work with and gave them a poem and story from Voices form the Fields. This is a collection of interviews and photographs of children of migrant farm workers by S. Beth Atkins.  The partners read each of them and tomorrow will “respond” to the texts. I know this is going to be difficult for them because they are use to being told exactly how to answer something.  I told them that had to put something on paper to prove to me that they found a connection to the two pieces of texts.  I was accused of making them think, which they don’t like to do.


keepingNext week, I am going to read The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Pollacco . This story is about a Jewish family from Russia who came to the United States, but decided to make a quilt from all of the important things from their homeland and it is then passed down to each generation to remind them of where they came from.

Another approach that I am trying in my classroom is what I am calling Free Read Fridays.  I told my students that every Friday they are going to read for thirty minutes. They can read anything that they want: magazines, newspapers, novels of any type, and they can also use their I-pads to find something to read. My school library had several magazines that they were willing to donate to my classroom, and my school gets the paper three times a week, and so I have those available for my students as well. I was pretty surprised how many students brought something to read last Friday. Most read magazines or something on their I-pads. I did have to make sure they were actually reading on the I-pads and not playing games, but once that rule was established things went rather smoothly.

Introducing my students to new approaches to literacy this late in the year is harder than it would be if I had done this from the beginning. However, I realize that I can take what I am learning now and adapt and change it for the start of the upcoming school year.

The Read Aloud–A Strong Reading Program: Part 1 of 4

This semester in READ 6309 students explored components of a strong reading program. As part of their work they were asked to contribute to this blog.

By S. Garza

yellow1I think most teachers are familiar with read alouds and associate them with a teacher reading a big book and all of the students sitting and listening at the carpet in the primary grade levels.  In Yellow Brick Roads, Janet Allen wants to move us away from this mentality.  One of the best reasons for reading aloud in any classroom is the fact that “read-aloud is risk free” as Allen says. The students that struggle to read do not have to worry about not being able to follow along or getting lost or not knowing how to read the words. These students can just sit there and enjoy the story like everyone else.  It would be good to keep in mind that there are struggling readers that will benefit from being able to enjoy a good story from beginning to end at every grade level.

I really like how Allen feels that read-aloud sets the stage for learning to read and reading to learn.  It makes sense that if students are familiar enough with literacy and literature then they can have a better chance with it later on. I feel that this also means that as teachers we should incorporate a much larger variety of genres into our read-alouds in order to better help our students with this endeavor.

Allen talks about preparation with read-alouds. This is something that I don’t think many people always think about.  Many times read-alouds are not taken as serious instructional time because there is not always a lot of time spent on planning for it. But some teachers, like Allen, do in fact, spend a great deal of time planning for a good read aloud.  Teachers need to learn how to pick appropriate books for a read-aloud.  The book may need to be chosen for the proper age group, topic that is currently being covered, or may be just a book for enjoyment.  It would be good to go through the book and see what vocabulary might be problematic for the students before the read-aloud. There may be some background information that maybe beneficial for the students to know before the reading. 

Allen recommends observing the students during the read-aloud to see the engagement during the reading. Give the students time to talk about the story and discuss what they think and feel. This will give the students the opportunity to make personal connections to the story and make it relevant to their own lives.

Read-Alouds for Older Kids

This semester students in READ 6309 examined components of a strong reading program. As part of their work, they were required to contribute to this blog.

By I. Martinez

Read-alouds are meant to help students in build their vocabulary, add to their storehouse of knowledge, and gain an appreciation of literature. These very same reasons hold true for older students, maybe even more so. Middle school and high school students acquire language and vocabulary suited to their age groups while regaining their love for literature.

In the book Yellow Brick Roads by Janet Allen, the author lists several steps to consider before and during the reading of a text to students, and amongst those steps, she recommends reading the text with passion, or as Maya Angelo states “infusing it with shades of deeper meaning”. I am in total agreement with these statements; however, as most teachers will confess, the reality of maintaining that “passion” by the end of the school day is not likely. Teachers who have four to six classes everyday may have a difficult time maintaining a reading schedule and moreover exuding that love of literature in their strained voices. This is one of the many reasons I am grateful for technology.

Project Gutenberg offers books on audio that are either human read or computer-generated. This is a quick and free resource for teachers, students and parents. Many classic books written by well-known authors like Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe can be found in this section of Project Gutenberg. Also, the corresponding written text to these audio books can be found in the main Project Gutenberg directory. Of course, not all books are copyright free, and therefore do not have a free audio or text option.

A couple of years ago, I undertook the task of reading Rip Van Winkle, a required reading, to several classes of high school seniors. The language itself was a tremendous hurdle for most students and most especially my ESL students. Rip Van Winkle was published in 1819 and reflected the language of the 19th century. I quickly realized that it was going to be a challenge gaining the students’ attention and interest in a story that they had difficulty understanding and relating to. That is when I decided to record my voice on GarageBand and add sound clips to aid their understanding. I have included a sampling of my reading with sound clips.

I am happy to report that the response to the recordings was incredibly positive. The students began requesting that more books be “read” to them in such manner, and everyone hushed and actually listened! It was like the witnessing of a miracle in a high school setting. That is the power of a read-aloud bringing dormancy back to life.