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The Dos and Donts of Reading Aloud

Adapted from The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

  • Preview the book by reading it to yourself ahead of time
  • The first time you read a book, discuss the illustration on the cover
  • Before you begin to read, always say the name of the book, the author, and illustrator
  • Allow your listeners a few minutes to settle down and adjust their feet and minds to the story. If it’s a novel, begin by asking what happened when you left off yesterday. Mood is an important factor in listening. An authoritarian “Now stop that and settle down! Sit up straight. Pay attention” doesn’t create a receptive atmosphere.
  • Add a third dimension to the book whenever possible- if we have a stuffed character that goes with the bool, children will enjoy holding it while listening.
  • The most common mistake in reading aloud is reading too fast. Read slowly enough for the child to see the pictures in the book without feeling hurried
  • Use plenty of expression when reading. If possible, change your tone of voice to fit the dialogue.
  • Focus on reading the story as a whole- to be enjoyed! You may pause occasionally to make comments or asks ‘what do you think will happen next.’ Follow the lead of the child.
  • Allow for time for conversation about the story after reading.
  • Don’t read stories you don’t enjoy yourself. Your dislike will show in the reading, and that defeats your purpose.
  • Don’t continue reading a book once it is obvious that it was a poor choice. Admit the mistake and choose another. Make sure, however, that you’ve given the book a fair chance to get rolling.
  • Don’t be unnerved by questions during the reading. Answer the questions patiently. Don’t put them off. Foster curiosity with patient answers, then resume reading.
  • Don’t impose interpretations of a story upon your audience. A story can be just plain enjoyable, no reason necessary.
  • Don’t turn read-aloud time into a reading lesson.
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