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

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kids in Charge

Looking for a way to get the kids at your Read-Aloud to really engage and buy into the entire evening? Give them opportunities to call the shots and make some decisions. Kids don't often get the chance to be in charge, so they are very proud of their choices when they have the opportunity to make them. Here's how kids can take charge of most aspects of a Read-Aloud in certain situations:

Theme Choice: Hold a vote at the end of your Read-Aloud to select the next theme. You can offer some choices to get things started and then let the kids add their own ideas. They might want to read about dragons or ghosts or something you'd never have considered. You can implement the selected theme the next time your team does a Read-Aloud, or you can work with the team that will be there first so the kids get more immediate satisfaction. 

Books: Depending on the group, allowing the kids to pick their small group books might work really well. This can be done in a variety of ways.
  • Each adult picks a book and the kids divide themselves up by going with the volunteer reading the book they want to hear.
  • Lay the book choices on a table and tell the kids to pair up, pick a book they want to hear, and then find a volunteer to read it to them.
  • Assign children to groups based on their ages and let each group choose from three book options to hear read aloud.

Activities: Provide two options for activities and let the kids choose which one they like more. Open-ended crafts, such as drawing what they would want to be when they grow up or making a dinosaur out of pipe cleaners, allow kids to create something based on their own skills, regardless of their age or abilities. This way, each child can be proud of the product she produces.

Snacks: Use the same method as the theme choice and let the kids vote between two or three reasonable and healthy snacks. For more tips on snack ideas, click here.

Book Ownership: Getting excited about books is largely based on picking a book that you really want to read. For tips to help kids pick a great book for themselves, click here. To build even more pride in the book selection, have the child write his or her own name in the chosen book. 

Rules: Because kids (and adults) value the things they create, many programs have the kids work together to create group rules. TRC already has the Promises, but if the kids at your site are really rowdy, you might help them buy into the system if they help you develop rules for the day.

Lastly, if certain kids in the group need more attention, give them jobs such as setting up the activity or snack, turning the pages, passing out markers or putting out the carpet squares. If this works exceptionally well with a specific child, be sure to tell the other volunteer teams at your site so they can use the strategy with that child as well.

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

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