circle time,  early literacy,  reading

Read Alouds that keep them interested

I have always loved to read stories to children, I can capture their attention and keep it for twenty minutes or more just by using a few very easy strategies.  These strategies have nothing to do with cute props, or even the story itself, they are all about how I read the book.

  1. Know the story – I don’t just mean “oh yeah, I’ve read that book before” it is so helpful to know the story inside and out.  You want to know what is on the next page before you turn to it.  It’s also helpful to be familiar with the rhythm of the story, this will carry the listener along as you read and help keep their attention. 
  2. Use your voice – Some people are great at making different voices for each character in the story, if you are that’s great – I’m not.  I get lost halfway through and forget which character had which voice.  I use my voice to enhance what is written.  Sometimes I whisper, Sometimes I pause at just the right moment, and I always gasp – a lot.  These things catch the audience’s attention.
  3. Use body language – If my voice creates the drama, my body language forces the children to connect with it.  When I want to make a point I’ll pause and make eye contact with each and every one of the children.  If the character in the story is scared, I’ll squeeze my eyes shut, I’ve also been known to yawn, shake my head, clap my hand over my mouth, bite my lip, roll my eyes, hit my leg, and stomp my feet.  It makes the story more entertaining, for the children and for me.  
These strategies take a little practice, it should feel like you’re acting out the book for the children.  It’s a lot like singing with the children, it can feel uncomfortable at first, but the more that you get into it, the more they will get into it.  Reading books dramatically will produce instant results.  I’ve honestly had children stare at me with open mouths because they are so engrossed in the story, they don’t realize their mouths are open.  
Give it a try, if feeling a little silly will make children enjoy reading, then it’s worth it in my book!

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