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Tips for Reading a Storybook Aloud

Reading with a child is an important part of developing reading skills. Reading a book aloud, taking turns reading, acting out a book, and discussing a book are all critical elements to engage a child in the reading process. Reading together starts children on a path to obtain the necessary reading skills to become proficient, interested, and hopefully lifelong readers. Here are some basic tips to consider when reading with one child or many. 



● Select a book that is age-appropriate for the child (or children) you are reading aloud. If you are unsure, visit RIF’s Literacy Central and search for books by grade-level.

● Choose a book that can be completed in one sitting. Children respond best when a reading is between 15-20 minutes (10 minutes for preschoolers).

● Before you read the book to the child, plan to read the book first to be familiar with the story and prepare open-ended questions you may ask that helps get the child engaged in the story.

● Think about the child or children you are reading to (ages, developmental levels, interests) and what you want them to get out of the story. This step will help you decide what questions you want to ask (or comments you want to make) and where (before, during, after the story).


Before You Read a Story

● Make sure everyone is comfortable.

● Show the cover and introduce the title, author, and illustrator. Look at the back cover and discuss the information the blurb gives.

● Ask the children what they think will happen in the book.

● Suggest things the children can look or listen for during the story.

● Ask some or all of the following questions:

           o What do you think this book is about? Why?

           o Where do you think the story takes place?

           o Have you ever read anything like this book before?

           o Flip through the pages and point out the illustrations to the children. Make predictions based on what you both see in the book. (Be careful not to give away the ending!)

           o Discuss things that the children might have in common with the characters or the setting of the story.


During a Story

● To bring the story to life, try to give each character a different voice.

● You may also consider dressing up like one of the characters or bringing puppets or stuffed toys related to the story. There are many ideas and resources on RIF’s Literacy Central.

● Ask open-ended questions to engage the children such as “How do you think the character felt?”

● Clarify unknown words by asking the kids what they think the word could mean.

● Ask children to make predictions about the plot, the characters, and the setting.

● Share your own thoughts about the story.

● Allow children to make connections and share comments as you read.

● Follow the cues of the children to respond to their age, background and any other individual characteristic or challenges.


After You Read a Story

● Ask questions about the story. For example, you might ask some of the following:

           o What was your favorite part? Why?

           o Who was the most important character? Why?

           o What was the problem in the story? How was it solved?

           o Does this book remind you of another book? Why?

           o How did the story make you feel?

           o Do you remember a time when you…? What happened?

● Ask children to describe one of the characters in the story, or how they might feel or act if they were one of the characters.

● Extend the story by having the children come up with an alternative ending.

Source: Reading Is Fundamental and Gateways to Early Literacy