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Bringing Balanced Literacy Into Primary, Intermediate and Upper Grade Classrooms

Read Aloud

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Read Aloud

Read aloud is an important component of effective literacy instruction that improves listening, comprehension, fluency, vocabulary skills, attitudes about reading, and student ability to visualize text. Read aloud facilitate comprehension and supports visualization of the thinking process for all students, especially beginning and intermediate English Language Learners and special education students. The Commission on Reading’s report (1985) “Becoming a Nation of Readers” (as cited in Trelease, 2004) states that reading aloud to students is the “single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading” (para. 7).

In the read aloud strategy, a teacher sets aside time to read orally to students on a consistent basis. The selections should be above students’ independent reading level and at their listening level. Read aloud allows the teacher to model fluent and expressive reading, to think aloud, and to provide interactions with a variety of texts. Teachers should increase the length and complexity of narrative and expository text over time.

The role of the teacher is:

To pre-read a selection thoroughly to become familiar with the content and structure prior to the lesson.

To locate and plan meaningful places in the selection during reading for discussion, prediction, and making connections to other texts or to related personal experiences.

To read a variety of selections (including narrative and informational texts) in all content areas.

To use carefully selected picture books as a tool for building language experience.

To model fluent and expressive reading (possibly through gestures and dramatic voices).

To model engaged reading by thinking aloud, making connections, and using comprehension strategies.

To create a literacy-rich environment that encourages an appreciation for reading.

To provide opportunities for collaborative conversation and written response to the selection.

The role of the student is:

To listen actively with purpose as the teacher reads aloud and models fluency.

To engage in collaborative conversations with peers.

To retell content from narrative and expository text and demonstrate recall of main ideas and details.

To respond by making connections, summarizing, inferring, synthesizing, and critiquing through discussion or writing.

The observer will see:

The teacher and/or students setting a purpose for reading.

The teacher thinking aloud while reading a selection and encouraging students to make predictions and inferences.

The teacher highlighting the features of the selection including the author, title, illustrator, text structure,

illustrations, graphs, tables, and captions.

The teacher incorporating a variety of texts including novels, picture books, magazine and newspaper articles, primary sources, and informational texts.

The students and teacher engaging in collaborative conversations about text using comprehension strategies.


Calkins, L. (2001). The art of teaching reading. Boston: Addison Wesley Longman.

Herrell, A. (2000). Fifty strategies for English Language Learners. Columbus, OH: Merrill Publishers.

Trelease, J. (2004). The read-aloud handbook. Retrieved on June 6, 2004, from

CPS Grades 4-8 Literacy Observation Guidelines 17