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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Read-Aloud Planning Advice from the Experts--TRC Volunteers

Who better to teach TRC volunteers about planning and conducting winning Read-Alouds than other volunteers?  In the October 2011 Volunteer Seminar, three highly successful Read-Alouds, conducted during summer and fall of 2011, were highlighted because they demonstrate some best practices in planning and implementation. A big thanks to Kim Gilliam, Rebecca Smith and Margaret Roberts for sharing their stellar sessions. Read on for techniques to use in developing your own themes or feel free to use these Read-Alouds just as they're written. 
ARHA kids go fishing
Appeal to the five senses: We understand best when multiple senses are engaged. Listening to a book engages the sense of hearing, but what if you could engage all five? To appeal to multiple senses in a beach Read-Aloud, bring in sand and shells to touch, seaweed to taste, ocean sounds to listen to, salt water to smell or pictures of a recent trip to the beach to see. Bringing these items gives the kids more ways to experience the theme and builds their background knowledge more thoroughly.

Include a game or physical activity:  Games and physical activities bring your theme to life in the time and space available. At a beach Read-Aloud, use paper fish with magnets and wooden rods with paperclip hooks. At a human body Read-Aloud, play "Operation" and give the kids a shot at being a doctor. Experiencing your theme will build kids' vocabulary and general knowledge.

Look for books with fantastic illustrations: Try organizing an entire Read-Aloud around books with compelling or intricate illustrations. Start with a book such as Animalia by Graeme Base.  This is an ABC book with intricate illustrations that works effectively with both young and older kids. You can decide to use books with the same illustration style or, to deepen the conversation, mix in books with different illustration styles such as photography, collage or painting.

Sing! Kids love silly songs. Books like Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Science Verse put silly words to traditional tunes like "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

Include nonfiction: Kids are eager for facts and love nonfiction books. Many nonfiction books have great photographs and many even rhyme. Try I Wonder Why I Blink by Brigid Avison for a human body theme or What the Sea Saw by Stephanie St. Pierre for a beach theme.

Allow for creativity: Include an activity that allows the kids to express their uniqueness. Kids can create their own ABC illustrations, inspired by Animalia, by cutting pictures out of old magazines and catalogs and making a collage. Make a paper-plate aquarium with cellophane and cut-out fish in a beach-themed Read-Aloud. Having an open-ended craft allows the little ones to do what they can and still feel productive, while the older kids can to make their creations as elaborate as they like.

In addition to the great themes and tips from TRC volunteers, TRC staff also provided outlines for some favorite Read-Alouds for volunteers to re-create at their own sites. If you're ever lacking an idea, feel free to use any of these.
Independence Place kids exploring
a Mad Science Read-Aloud with
their hands.

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

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