Until recently, the concept of the read-aloud in the literacy classroom elicited visions of a classroom full of children sitting on the floor, listening to their teacher read a picture book to them.  For obvious reasons, this practice was seen as being more beneficial to an elementary school environment.  Children in middle school and high school were perceived to be more independent readers and resistant to the concept of having a text read aloud to them.

    Education research has taught us that middle school students who are read aloud to exhibit great improvements in the areas of fluency, comprehension, and engagement.  These read aloud sessions serve not only to motivate students to be more interested in the storyline and the characters but it also provides them with opportunities to have language modeled for them.  It is very easy to see how second language learners and children with learning modifications would benefit from having the story read to them.

    It is always important to make to connection between what our children are learning at school and how they can practice these skills and use these strategies at home.  Parents can also help their children reap the benefits of the read-aloud and it is never too early or too late to begin.  There are many ways that middle school parents can encourage reading aloud at home.

    One way to do this is through paired readings.  I have often done this with my own students where I will pair up two students with two copies of the same book.  They take turns reading different sections of the book to each other and engage in discussions about the elements of the story.  Parents can do this at home by engaging in paired reading with their own children.

    Have a conversation with your child about a topic that is of interest to both of you and choose a book to read together.  You can create a schedule for reading that includes how much of the book you will read independently, what pages you will read aloud to each other, and even come up with some guiding questions.    Guiding questions can be about the characters, setting, plot, or movement through time.  Next week, I will be discussing the elements of the story in more detail.

    Another great way to practice reading aloud at home is through the investigation of illustrations within non-fiction texts.  Most illustrations in this genre contain captions under them describing what is taking place in the image.  Parents can encourage their children to read these captions aloud and discuss their thoughts with them about the photos.  In many cases, this will pique the child’s curiosity and cause them to want to read the text that goes along with the illustrations.

    Parents can get all of the children in the household involved in reading aloud by encouraging their older children to read aloud to their younger children.  This activity can include siblings, family friends, and extended family members.  This helps to foster a community of readers and writers and does wonders for giving struggling readers more confidence due to knowing that there is an entire network of loved ones to support them when they are having difficulties.

    It is important that parents and their children make a commitment to read aloud every single day.  Reading aloud daily will do wonders by way of improving a child’s reading and writing stamina.  Although the ultimate goal is for children to improve academically, remember that the most important factor is that they have fun and enjoy the text.  The only way to truly foster a love of literature is by allowing kids to develop a relationship with the text and its characters.

Creative commons-licensed photo provided by sirexkat.

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