Interactive Read Alouds: All of Your Questions Answered!

Reading out loud to students is one of the best parts of my day as a teacher.  Getting the chance to dive into amazing picture books and mentor texts, brings passion to my job.  All good teachers know the power behind a strong picture book.  They can be used to enjoy and read for pleasure or they can be used to specifically plan and teach reading skills to our students.  This is what we call interactive read alouds.

Interactive read alouds are fun and unique ways to use picture books.  They help teach students different reading skills.  But there’s more to it than just reading a book out loud for fun!  Let’s take a moment to dive more into what interactive read alouds are all about! Let’s see how we can use them to help teach and inspire our students!

Interactive Read Alouds

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What are interactive read alouds?

Many teachers get confused on what a regular read aloud is compared to an interactive read aloud.  Here are a few differences:

  • A typical read aloud is chosen to enjoy for fun, however, an interactive read aloud is planned and chosen with a purpose and an objective to teach.
  • Students in a typical read aloud are very passive compared to students in an interactive read aloud who are very involved and engaged in the learning and discussion of the book.
  • Interactive read alouds typically take between 15-29 minutes depending on the grade level and complexity of the book.

One of the best ways I can think of interactive read alouds is this:  a reader involved is doing everything that a typical independent reader would do!  It’s about the strategy that the teacher has chosen to focus on and models for his/her students.  And finally, it’s about the conversations with the text, which can translate into more opportunities later, such as literature circles and book clubs!

Interactive Read Aloud

What are some benefits to interactive read alouds?

Any time a student is being read out loud to, the benefits sky rocket.  However, there are some specific benefits to having interactive read alouds done in the classroom.

  • Interactive read alouds give students access to rich text that they might not typically have access to, especially if they are a lower reader or ELL student.
  • Interactive read alouds provide you with tons of cross curricular opportunities.
  • Using interactive read alouds naturally provides scaffolding for ELL and SPED students.  The way you model the strategy & questions asked can be easily differentiated.
  • They help build students’ background knowledge of a variety of topics, boost vocabulary, and even build a sense of community in the classroom!

What are the steps to planning an effective interactive read aloud?

Planning interactive read alouds is easy, but the steps are specific and need to be followed!  Make sure to grab my Interactive Read Aloud Guidebook (above) for your copy of my Interactive Read Aloud Lesson Plan template to help!

  1. Using data, pick a reading skill or strategy your students need.  Then pick a mentor text that supports that strategy.
  2. Read the text the entire way through.  As you’re reading, find great moments in the text to demonstrate the strategy.  Make these stopping points with sticky notes.
  3. Create an anchor chart to have near your during the read aloud.  The anchor chart should be focused on the steps to using the strategy you’ve chosen.
  4. Using the lesson planning page to plan out the student portion of the read-aloud.  Begin by choosing a hook and how you plan on communicating the purpose/objective of the read aloud with your students.
  5. Finally, identify an opportunity (or two) for students to turn and talk or stop & job to talk about discuss the story or specific questions you’ve asked them.  Here are some awesome tips to mastering classroom discussions, that might help!

As you can see, using interactive read alouds in your classroom can be purposeful, easy, and needed!  There are so many benefits to them that I highly recommend finding time in your week to squeeze in at least one interactive read aloud!  Promise?

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Interactive Read Aloud


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I’m a wife, a mommy of 3, blogger, and a full time teacher author and presenter. I love to read, shop, and spend time with my family! My hands are always busy, but my heart is so full!

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