Reading Aloud

Research shows that reading aloud consistently at all ages helps with word recognition, comprehension, higher order thinking skills, and so much more.

I decided to experiment with this idea during my third year of teaching when I was a literacy support teacher for sixth and seventh grade. I was working with students who were below proficient on standardized tests, who struggled with reading, and who didn’t like or want to read. I chose my books carefully (Divergent in 6th and Double Identity in 7th) and started my read aloud. I would read for five minutes at the beginning of every class and we would have a quick discussion based on a question.why-read

To this day, this was the best thing I have ever done as a teacher. It was amazing to see how well my students responded to this activity every day. The fact that I made reading aloud part of my classroom routine was not only good classroom management, but also allowed kids time to appreciate and develop a love of reading. Unfortunately, my supervisor at the time did not agree with my use of class time, and at the end of the year I was non-renewed because I wasn’t a “good fit”. Even now almost three years later, I still wouldn’t change how I spent those first five minutes of my class.

Today’s post is about incorporating reading aloud into daily classroom and home life, so this is meant for both parents and teachers. Sometimes reading aloud isn’t just the adult reading to the child, but can be the child reading to the adult, or a child reading to another child.


  1. Class read aloud. For the last few years I have incorporated a read aloud during the first few minutes of my classes. They should be between 5-7 minutes (depending if you have a block schedule or not) and each session should end in some sort of a discussion to check for understanding. This can be done at all grade levels (yes, even high school). Some things to remember for a class read aloud:
    1. Make sure the book is appropriate for the class. The text should be equivalent to the grade level or a little higher. Since the book is being read aloud along with a discussion after every reading, you can challenge students with a more complex text.
    2. The book is engaging! It’s hard to carve out class time in general, let alone every day, so you want to make it worth the time. Choose a text that will have students excited to read, and that you enjoy.
    3. Be consistent with the time. When I taught in a block schedule I would read for seven minutes then post a question for kids to respond to for about a minute, then we would discuss answers for two minutes. When I taught in a 40- minute class, I cut my reading time down to five minutes and responsepartner-reading sharing down to one minute. It’s so important to keep the consistency because students will get used to the timing. However, some days when my timer goes off my students beg for a few more minutes. It’s so hard to say no when this happens, and almost every time I give in, although I warn them they may have additional work, but they never seem to mind. As a teacher, use your judgment. Some days you can read for a few more minutes, others it’s just not possible, but you want to keep the “usual” reading time as consistent as possible. **Save time on student sharing by using technology tools like Padlet, Google classroom, Random Name Picker, etc.**
    4. Recap! Always make sure you recap the last reading before moving on to a new section. This is a great pre-reading strategy to help students prepare for the next reading, and it also catches up any kids who missed a reading.
    5. Be excited! I think one of the reasons why my read aloud times were so
      successful was because I was legitimately excited for them myself, and my kids knew it.
  2. Small group read aloud. For upper elementary, middle school, and high school lots of lessons involve analyzing a text as a small group. This is a great opportunity for students to read aloud to one another. Most of the time, the set up of this activity involves students reading, highlighting, and discussing a text and answering questions, so all you would need to do is have students incorporate reading the text aloud. Depending on the groups, I either let students determine who reads what sections (everyone has to read something) or I instruct them to read one paragraph or one page each.
  3. Partner read aloud. This is often a concept seen in elementary classrooms because of the many benefits, but it can be used in all grades. Students are able to hear and see reading habits of a peer. The teacher can choose partners based on reading level, high student and low student, so students can learn from one another. The teacher can also give the option for students to choose a partner, allowing them to work with someone they are comfortable with, which is half the battle with some students.

Parents. Reading aloud is a great way to help your child with reading skills and develops a love of reading.

  1. Pick a time to read. Most families are super busy all day and don’t have a chance toread-aloud-everyday really sit down until bedtime, which is what makes it the most popular time for family reading. Whatever time works for your family, keep it consistent. Some nights it will change or not happen at all, but for the most part keep the time consistent.
  2. Pick a spot. Along with the time consistency, you want to dedicate a special reading place. It could be your bed, the child’s bed, or a special chair.
  3. Involve the whole family. Kids learn so much just by watching their parents, so it’s good to have the whole family involved in reading. The goal is to get everyone involved in the read aloud in some way, even if it’s just listening along. I’ve been reading aloud to Molly since she was born, and we make it a point to read every night before we put her to sleep. I’m normally the one that reads to her because my husband isn’t a big book reader, but he will read articles and blogs. He knows how important reading is to me, so he participates by choosing the books and listening on the floor.
  4. On the go reading. Sometimes reading at home just isn’t possible, and that’s okay. Growing up I spent most of my time in the car traveling from one activity to another. This is still true for many parents today, so it can be challenging to get some read aloud time in. However, it is possible. Option 1: Read in the car. My mom actually had my sister read aloud to her while she would drive. It was a great way for my sister to practice reading aloud because my mom could help her with decoding and reading comprehension. My sister would stop and ask questions periodically and the two of them would discuss the reading. It did take them a while to finish the book, but those car ride sessions still allowed them to practice great read aloud strategies. Option 2:Read at the event. Parents are always waiting for one activity to end and another to begin, so use this down time to read with your child. The great part about technology today is that so many books and articles are available digitally, so you always have a text at your fingertips. You could also leave a bag of books in your car for situations like this. This would be best for younger children because they rely on pictures to comprehend the stories, and many digital books are tiny so the visual is hard to see.

Usborne knows how important reading aloud is to children, so they have a whole collection dedicated to read aloud books.

*Aesop’s Stories for Little Children five-min-bedtime-stories

*Big Book of Little Stories

*Five-Minute Bedtime Stories

*10 Ten-Minute Stories

*10 More Ten-Minute Stories

* Animal Stories for Bedtime

*Fairy Tales for Bedtime

If you’re interested in purchasing any of these titles, or other Usborne product, click here.

Wipe-Clean Collection

Early Learning and Entertainment

I had a children’s book themed baby shower back in July, and we asked attendants to bring a children’s book instead of a card to start Molly’s home library. This was by far the best thing we did (along with a diaper raffle) because it gave us such a great variety of literature. Among the books we received, my grandma gave us two Usborne books, Noisy Farm and Wipe-Clean Dot to Dot Farm. My parents started a farm, Mini Mac, my senior year of high school and currently work it. My grandma (GG) thought it was the perfect opportunity to give Molly her first farm related book. wipe-clean-dot-farm

Today, I want to share some information about the Wipe-Clean collection from Usborne. These books are really cool in so many ways. The book and pages are thick and glossy, and aren’t that easy to rip, bend, or fold. A special pen comes with the book, making it convenient to use. These books can help kids with practicing pen control, numbers, letters, and numbers, and also provide entertainment.

Two words that best describe these books are versatile and portable. The Wipe-Clean books can be used as an independent activity or with a buddy/parent. It can be transported anywhere because all you need is the book, pen, and something to wipe with (tissue, paper towel, sleeve, etc.). There is no charging required, so you don’t need to worry about cords and outlets. They are thin and lightweight, and they fit easily into almost any type of bag.

Book Suggestions for Teachers and Parents

For preschool age kids, I would recommend using Wipe-Clean 1,2,3, Writing Numbers, Alphabet, and First Letters. Usborne also makes Wipe-Clean cards for learning the wipe-clean-telling-timealphabet and numbers that are also great for this age group. For kindergarten students, I would suggest using Wipe-Clean Capital and Lowercase Letters, Common Words to Copy, First Math, and First Words. For early elementary students, I recommend Wipe-Clean Starting Times Tables, Telling the Time, and Action Words to Copy. Depending on the student’s needs, you may need to differentiate with lower level or more advanced level books.

 The activity books come in great themes and can be used from preschool through early elementary. There are also some engaging sets meant for helping kids get ready for school, which would be a great summer activity. wipe-clean-ready-for-school-kit

Here are some great ideas on using these books for parents and teachers of preschool-early elementary kids.


  1. Center Activity. When I taught sixth grade, I would do a variety of center activities with my students. Mine didn’t look as appealing as elementary centers because of lack of space and resources. However, I always felt like I used the same ideas over and over (online games, videos, etc.). These books are awesome because students can work on them independently and they are easy to check. There is also minimal set up because all you need are the books, pens, and a tissue or paper towel.
  2. Remedial or Enrichment activities. As teachers we are always told to differentiate, and these books are PERFECT for doing just that. I suggest using these during math and/or reading instruction because that is where they would fit the curriculum best. Also, if you have ICS or pull out, these books would be perfect to use during those times as well.


  1. Extra Practice or jumpstart skills. As a parent, you can use these books however they work best for your child. They start at basic skills (pen control, learning the alphabet and counting, and common words) and continue into harder concepts, such as times tables and telling time. Again, it’s up to you as a parent to determine to use these books for fun, extra practice, or to jumpstart skills that will be taught in school.
    1. Independently. Over the years I have had parents ask me what they can do at home to help their kids with skills. Some parents want to be able to give their kids worksheets to do on their own, and these books can work the exact same way.
    2. Buddy Work (Parent). Similar to how some parents like independent work, others like to do practice work with their kids. One great strategy could be you do one page and talk about your thinking process aloud, then have your child do the same on another page. This allows kids to hear and see how an adult works and when they imitate an adult, it gives the parent a chance to understand their child’s thinking.
    3. Buddy Work (Sibling, relative, friend). Kids love to do activities with someone wipe-clean-pirate-activityelse. These books are a great opportunity to have your child interact with a sibling, relative, or friend. For the activity books, your child can do a part and their “helper” can do another. For instance, in the Dot to Dot books, there are dots to connect and words to write on each page. Depending on what the child wants or needs, they do that part and the “helper” would do the other.
  2. Fun activity books. While it’s great that these books can be used for writing and math skills, they are also meant to be fun and entertaining. As mentioned above, they are easy to transport and require little to no set up and clean up. Kids can complete mazes, dot to dots, and theme activities like dinosaurs and pirates.

For a complete look at the collection head over to Usborne. If you see anything you think could be useful for your classroom and/or little one, purchases can be made here.

Picking the Right Book

Yesterday was a normal “home” day until I got a call from the bank that they needed my signature for my daughter’s account. I love my bank! It’s like going to see a bunch of friends whenever I go there, especially with Molly in tow. traveling-molly

While I was there, I told one of the ladies about being an Usborne consultant because I know she has two children. She mentioned how her son, a fifth grader, doesn’t like to read, and her daughter, a four year old, knows some sight words, but always makes up her own story while they read together. I offered to email her some suggestions from the fall catalog (the spring one isn’t digital yet).

So that brings me to my first post (yay!) and one of the most important parts of making a kid a reader…finding the right book. So many parents have told me that their child “hates” reading and I always say that’s because they haven’t found what works for them.

This post is for teachers and parents of all grade levels.


  1. What is the student’s reading level? This is HUGE! You can’t give a student reading on a third grade level Romeo and Juliet because they can get frustrated with their lack of comprehension. When this happens, students won’t read the text, which is why you see students daydream, act out, etc. On the flip side, you don’t want a text that’s too easy for them either. Students are still growing as readers, even in middle school, and sometimes high school, and therefore need to be challenged to further their growth. So, it’s really a balancing act.
  2. What are the student’s interests? colorful-question-markSometimes you may know the student and this part is easy, but other times you need to spend some time talking to the student to discover this. The key is to ask questions. What do you like to do in your free time? What kind of movies do you like? What is your favorite book? What hobbies do you have? Etc. Some kids can talk your ear off while others just stare at you.  Change up the types of questions that you ask to get more information.
  3. How is my knowledge of children’s literature? I am one of those teachers who reads what my kids read. I tell my students I speak many different languages. I’m fluent in Divergent, Harry Potter, The Shadow Children, etc. and they love that. Kids love to talk about what they read, and as a teacher it’s important that you know how to engage in the conversation. Students look to you to suggest books for them, so you need to be ready with a couple different options. If you struggle with this, talk to your school media specialist, other teachers, and friends. It’s important to keep up with the current trends in children’s literature and young adult.


  1. Find what your kids like. My husband loves to watch American Pickers on A&E, and while it’s interesting, I truly can’t watch it all night. When it’s on, I hop on Netflix or Hulu on my iPad and tune it out. The same concept goes for kids. If they aren’t interested in the material they want nothing to do with it. Also, just because you like Nancy Drew doesn’t mean that your child will. I have had many parents spend hundreds of dolmysterieslars on books that they liked as a child expecting their kids to love it. Keep in mind that this isn’t always the case.
  2. Ask the teacher. It’s as simple as that. I’ve had parent teacher conferences that revolve around book
    suggestions. There is nothing wrong with sending your child’s teacher a quick email asking for ideas (these are the emails teachers get excited about).
  3. Reach out to an Usborne consultant. Usborne features over 1,800 books at all levels and topics. Consultants can help make book suggestions for pleasure, reference, and learning. If you’re interested in speaking
    to a consultant feel free to email me at, or if you would like to make a purchase visit my online page.

Below were my suggestions for the lady at the bank. Again, the page numbers correlate to the Fall 2016 catalog:

Four Year Old Girl (likes princesses)

  • Wipe Clean- Alphabet, Capital Letter, Lower-case Letter, Words (pg. 62). These are really cool mini workbooks to help practice basic writing skills that can be used over and over again. wipe-clean-lower-case-letters
  • Phonics Workbook 4 (pg. 64)
  • Fairy Tales and Princess Stories (pg. 65). These two books are known as dual readers, which mean there are two levels of text on each page. This is great for reading together and preparing children for more complex reading passages.
  • Phonics Books (pg. 66). Any of these books would be great to help with phonics.
  • Illustrated Stories Princes and Princesses (pg. 73). This is meant for older kids, but it would be a good one to read aloud.

Fifth Grade Boy

  • Mystical 9th Division Series (pg. 161). This is a sci-fi series (boys this age really like sci-fi) and it’s similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid with the format. Each chapter starts out with a comic and there are pictures to help with reading comprehension. mythical-9th-division-series
  • I Am Jack (pg. 164). This series has similar content to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. 

The page numbers are from the Fall 2016 catalog. Feel free to take a look at the suggestions. If you’re interested in purchasing from Usborne, check them out!

If you have any questions about Usborne or the ideas mentioned in this post, please feel free to email me at