TRC Read to Kids

Welcome to The Reading Connection’s blog, where you’ll find the best guidance on reading aloud to kids. Whether you are a TRC Read-Aloud volunteer, parent or student, the book themes and crafts ideas, child development guidelines and recommended websites will expand your world. For 25 years, The Reading Connection has worked to improve the lives of at-risk kids by linking the magic of reading to fun experiences that inspire a passion for learning. Visit our website at

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Helping Kids Choose Books

Do you know that feeling of excitement and infinite possibility when you walk in to a book store and know you can pick anything you want? And the delight and anticipation as you open your new book for the first time?

That's exactly what we want for our TRC kids when they choose books at the end of each Read-Aloud.

Kids tell us that their favorite part of the Read-Aloud is when they get to choose a new book to keep. And reading research tells us that getting to choose is as important to building reading motivation as fun experiences with books and reading role models.

So how do you help a child choose?

Familiarize yourself with the give-away books so that you know what is available. Be prepared to talk with the kids about the different types of books. Describe different genres. Introduce new authors and illustrators. Turn them on to a new series.

Bring a book to life. If a child is wondering if she'll like a book, read some of it to her. Point out rhyme, repetition, illustrations, chances to guess what happens next, humor, suspense, and interesting characters.

Help the kids be “great book detectives” by examining available clues:

  • Cover—is it appealing?
  • Author or illustrator—do they know them? Like them?
  • Excerpts or reviews on the back or inside the cover
  • Is it part of a series they’ve read and liked?
  • How long is it?
  • What do their friends know about it?
  • How does it read? Try the first page and see.

Pay attention to the kids at your Read-Alouds. Notice what kinds of books or experiences excite them. Ask them about their likes and dislikes. Then, play matchmaker between the kids and the books.

Most important: let kids choose on their own. Please don’t stop children from taking books that you think are too easy or too hard for them to read. Kids, just like adults, are drawn to books for all kinds of reasons—memories, dreams, curiosity. Books can comfort a child or encourage one to try something new and challenging.

Only if a child asks you if a particular books is too hard for her to read, have her try this Five Finger Test.

Our goal is to have each TRC kid leave a Read-Aloud with a book he or she is excited to read!

To receive credit for this online training, please fill out the form here.


  1. I'd never heard of the Five Finger Test but that's actually a really great tip! The URL had a double "http://" at the beginning:

  2. Thanks for finding that! I've fixed the link, so it should be good to go.