Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Read Alouds and Storytelling

Read alouds are great experiences for children. Not only do they gain literacy skills, but they participate in a very interactive experience with their peers and teacher. While reading, they share their ideas, wonder about things and convey their emotions.

In the classroom, a good foundation with books is necessary to allow children to understand the role of a writer and their ability to write. To do this, texts should be explored in the classroom, the process to make them, and what exactly it means to be a writer.

There are five key areas to focus on in the classroom:
  • the people who make books: understanding that normal people write and illustrate books and do this as a job. through this knowledge, they will understand that they too can be writers and "play" being a writer in the classroom.
  • what makes a picture book a picture book: students start to understand that a picture book has both writing and illustrations, they change from page to page while still on the same topic, it is about something and the writer decides what it will be, and the book has crafted language in it. The students and teacher can wonder aloud why an author decided to write the story or why the illustrator chose to illustrate a page a certain way.
  • different kinds of books: Students understand the difference between books with stories and books with lists.
  • different purposes for books: A beginning to understanding the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Some books are made for entertainment, while others are made for informing. Other elements of literature are discussed, such as maps in books. This helps to build intentionality when children write their own books. A great way to involve the children is to have them make a book about what they are doing.
  • decisions that writers and illustrators make: This helps children notice how the author and illustrator are using elements of the story to bring it to life. Words that are written a certain way and pages illustrated convey a specific meaning that children can talk about and understand. This will come out in their own writing work.  
Another great tool to use in the classroom is storytelling. Similar to read alouds, it builds a strong connection to story writing with the added play factor. It helps children to feel in control and really helps them to convey their meaning thoroughly.

Some great ideas for lessons are:
  • Stories have settings: Find different settings that stories can take place. After choosing, they may create life size representations of their ideas. 
  • Stories have characters: Stories all have characters with unique characteristics and purposes. Children can brainstorm characters and decide what makes them special to identify them and create their own image. From here, they can illustrate their own character.
  • Stories have a sense of time: All stories use time. Time uniquely places what is happening. Several books can be investigated to see how they use time to do different things. Children can then make their own set of "time-based" stage props to illustrate their ideas.
  • ...and so much more!
Storytelling can really be investigated through many topics. They all are engaging and meaningful ways to get children involved with their work around them. 

Already Ready by Katie Ray
Castle in the Classroom by Ranu Bhattacharyya


  1. I love your ideas for activities that apply the characteristics of books and stories to children's lives. This makes the material much more meaningful to them and helps them grow into little authors and readers!

  2. I really like that you talked about the importance of investigating the story. It is so important that the children really comprehend what a story is about all the way through and not just the ending!

  3. You summed it up perfectly: “texts should be explored in the classroom, the process to make them, and what exactly it means to be a writer.”

    Essentially, making meaning of various acts of literacy is the sole point in the classroom. What it means to be an author, an illustrator, a reader, a member of the community—these are critical points to consider when making meaning.

  4. Very good post and I like that you mentioned that stories have a sense of time. This is one aspect that I think gets overlooked when students write a book or teachers explain the instruction. For example if a child reads a book that is over a hundred pages and the author never mentions a change in days, it can really take a person out of the story. A sense of realism should be considered when writing. This way the writer (student or professional) can judge how long a number of actions would have taken place in real life.

  5. Great insights into the functions that teachers to pay attention to during read aloud situations, in order to foster and encourage children as writers. These characteristics, separately, may seem meaningless, but together they create a personality for the author and the text, which the child can relate to as a person, and as an author/illustrator of stories.