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, April 9, 2012

Parts of a Book: The Importance of Book Mechanics

While Read-Alouds are about getting kids excited for the stories inside books and giving them information on all their favorite subjects, there's another part that we talk about less frequently: helping kids learn about books in general.

Children who grow up in families where books aren't an integral part of daily life may not be as familiar with the parts of a book as kids who use books every day. Helping kids at Read-Alouds get comfortable with the way books are organized is just as important as inspiring them to read on their own or teaching them how to sound out words. It's part of the mechanics of reading. 

In Read-Alouds, take time to emphasize the parts of a book.

How to hold a book
If you're not too familiar with books, you might not know how to hold one--it's important to be gentle and not pull too hard on the pages or bend the spine. This you can show by example, and when kids are picking out books to take home, gently correct a child who is being too rough with it. Hold the book, smooth the cover, and say, "This looks like a great book! What a beautiful cover. Remember to treat it nicely." Observers will learn from your example.

The cover and title page
When you first bring out a story, take a minute to show the cover to the audience. Ask what they can guess about the story from the front of the book. Who will the characters be? What does the title tell us? Point out where the author's name is and read it out loud. Despite the old saying about not judging a book by its cover, learning to discern what a book is about from its cover is an important skill.

What can we take from the cover of Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories? Well, we know it's by Dr. Seuss. Ask your audience what they know from experience about Dr. Seuss books. (There will probably be silly words and rhymes.) Point out the picture of the turtles all stacked up--take a minute to talk about what that is all about!

Turn to the title page--note how the title and author's names are printed again. This is true of every book!

Table of contents and chapter list
When you have a reader who is just moving up to longer books--or if you're going to read part of one to a group--take a minute to show off the table of contents or the chapter list. Some nonfiction books will have a table of contents that shows where different sections begin and end. Show the kids how to find which part you want to read, and the corresponding page number. 

Explain how not every book has to be read from the first page to the last page--the table of contents lets you skip around to what you want to read. If it's a nonfiction book and you're working one-on-one with a child, let him look through the table of contents and pick which section he wants you to read. 

The first page of Shel Silverstein's Everything On It index.
Like the table of contents, knowing how to use an index is an important reading skill. Fast-forward a few years and the kids you're reading to will be asked to do a research project in school. The point of using an index is to give the kids practice finding relevant information inside books. You can give your readers a head start by helping them understand the concept of an index. It sounds like such a little thing, but the difference between knowing what an index is and how it's used and not knowing will make a big difference!

Note to your readers that the index is located at the end of the book, whereas the table of contents is at the front, and that the index works alphabetically (talk for a minute about what that means) while the table of contents lists things in the order they appear in the book.

Understanding how a book works is just as important as knowing how to read one. Don't devote an entire Read-Aloud to talking about how indexes work or what information is available on the title page--that's what school is for, and Read-Alouds are primarily about having fun with reading. But, you can integrate this kind of important information about book mechanics into every Read-Aloud you do. Even though it may not seem like it, doing so can help give readers a big advantage when it's time to use books in the rest of their lives. 

Post by The Reading Connection intern Anna McCormally.

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


  1. Nice post. I enjoy reading your article. I found new ideas and very good information. I will come back for the next post. Thank you.


  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thanks for sharing this post. I really inspired from your words. Reading enriches our knowledge. We should practice the children to read by giving them story books. Reading long will help to write good. You also can write essays on the topic you read. If you have doubt you can ask admission essay writing service for help. It is the best essay writing service and they provides good essay and simple guidelines to students.

  4. I read your blog.I thought it was great.. Hope you have a great day. God bless.


  5. I must say, this is a very important information. Though teachers teach this in school but it is different to refresh such ideas in mind. I even taught these ideas with my children. Also important when it comes in thesis writing involves. Looking forward for more relevant ideas.

  6. Reading Makes Your Child Smarter

    Reading is known to have numerous benefits. It increases your world knowledge, enhances your vocabulary, and works to improve your reading comprehension abilities.

    But did you know that reading can actually make you smarter?

    In fact, reading not only can make a child smarter, the very act of reading can even help to compensate for modest levels of cognitive ability in children by building their vocabulary and general knowledge! This is a finding reported by researchers Cunningham and Stanovich in a report titled "What Reading Does For the Mind".

    The simple fact here is that reading can make your child smarter, and that learning to read early on is directly linked to later success in life.

    1) Did you know that your child's vocabulary at 3 years old predicts his or her grade one reading success? [1]

    2) Did you know that vocabulary and reading ability in first grade strongly predicts grade 11 outcomes? [2]

    3) Did you know that your child's reading skill in grade 3 directly influences high school graduation? Studies have found that children who cannot read proficiently by grade 3 are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers! [3]

    >> Give your child the best possible head start. Teach your child to read today. Click here to learn how.

    But how do you teach a young child to read, and isn't that the job of the school and teachers?

    You can't be more wrong...

    With the right tools, knowledge, and techniques, teaching young children to read can be a simple and effective process. I'd like to introduce you to a fantastic reading program called Children Learning Reading, a super effective method for teaching children to read - even children as young as just 2 or 3 years old.

    The creators of this program have used it to teach their four children to read before age 3, and by reading, I mean real, phonetic reading.

    I can understand if you find that hard to believe... In fact, I had a difficult time believing it myself as well... that is, until I saw the videos they posted documenting the reading progress of the their children - not to mention all the videos other parents have sent in showcasing their children's reading progress after using the Children Learning Program. After learning more about their methods and techniques, it became clear how it's possible to teach young children to read effectively.

    It is truly within your ability to teach your child to read in a relatively short period of time spending just 10 to 15 minutes each day.

    >> Click here now to watch the videos and start teaching your child to read.

    1. Vocabulary Development and Instruction: A Prerequisite for School Learning
    Andrew Biemiller, University of Toronto

    2. Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later.
    Cunningham AE, Stanovich KE.

    3. Double Jeopardy How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation
    Donald J. Hernandez, Hunter College and the Graduate Center,