Children have a rich imagination and they love using it. By involving children in a group reading, you can satisfy their need to be imaginative and social. Take care to get involved with a structured reading group and watch their creativity flourish.
Bring an interesting book. Kids don’t have very long attention spans, so try to choose a book that will be interesting to them and likewise to you. Children are keenly aware when the adult around them is not interested in what they’re doing. Try a pop-up book if you’re unsure how to pick something fun.
- If you find that the kids are not paying attention, or you just want to avoid losing their interest, try selecting a few books, two or three should suffice, and have the kids vote on which one they want to read. You can’t please everyone, but you can work the runner-up story into the next story time.
- Take the children’s age into account. Different ages might find different types of books interesting.
- Try not to get a book that is too long. Aim for 1 that can be read in about 10-15 minutes.
Select an appropriate topic. The book you choose should be appropriate for the age group and appropriate concerning content. If you’ve been tasked to read to older children, books like Everybody Poops may not be the best selection. Instead, try something in the Dr. Seuss line, or the classic Incognito Mosquito.
Read ahead. Regardless of the age group, make sure you read the book yourself a few times. You can think about possible questions the kids might have, think of fun ways to read through the book, and also find a natural rhythm or cadence that fits the pace and tone of the book.
- As you read, plan some questions to ask the kids later. These question should ask children what they think will happen next or why they think something happened the way it did.
Change up the story. Pick different stories for each reading. If you read the same story again and again the kids are likely to get bored. What’s more, reading a variety of stories will expose the children to a breadth of vocabulary, plots, and diversity, specifically in the types of language. In other words, your little ones will have ongoing experiences with different syntactic forms (sentence and phrase structure), sounds, verb tenses, and emotions.
- Please remember that there is a difference between talking for all to hear and yelling a story at the kids. Avoid the latter by testing the room’s acoustics beforehand. You can do this by reading to another adult or even by turning on the voice recorder on your phone and placing it in the middle of the room.
Set rules and stick to them. Kids need structure and learn this through interaction. Before you start reading the story, be sure to reinforce a few simple rules like, “don’t interrupt the story” and “raise your hand if you have a question.” As you read through the story, you’ll likely need to restate these simple rules several times, but do it calmly and politely.
- If you happen to be interrupted, you can try to a polite phrase like “I see your hand, please wait your turn” or “I’ll call on you when it’s time for questions.”
- Make sure any teaching assistants or volunteers are also aware of what they can do during this time. Perhaps they can model good listening behavior or they can watch the students to see if they’re paying attention.
- If the children seem bored by the book, move on to the next activity. Try getting a book with more pictures or a more exciting story next time.