- It's an important skill for life
- It helps teachers and parents to observe and make 'visible' children's reading processes
- It helps to develop reading fluency and support vocabulary development
- It can help us to assess reading progress and diagnose difficulties
How to listen to children reading (HERE & HERE),
The importance of reading to and with children (HERE), and
Readers' Theatre (HERE).
In this post I want to offer some suggestions for how teachers and parents can make oral reading more effective, as well as enjoyable and even fun!
2. Making it fun and enjoyable
|Above: Bec reads to her day-old sister|
1. Choose appropriate material for your children - use graded material at varied levels; favourite passages from books the class has heard or read (e.g. Roald Dahl or Dr Seuss books work); jokes & riddles; poetry or songs that they know; speeches and famous quotes.
2. Ensure that students are reading at their appropriate level.
3. Use varied strategies and avoid simply reading around the group.
3. Some alternative strategies
Most of the ideas that follow can be found in a great article by Mary Ann Cahill and Anne E. Gregory published in 'The Reading Teacher' a couple of years ago. Here is their description of oral reading in a US 2nd grade classroom they had worked in:
'One pair is rolling dice and using different voices to read; a small group is reading to small, plastic animals on their desks; three students are wearing masks while reading; and another pair is using little, red-beamed flashlights to shine on each word as they read.'What are some simple novel ways to help children remain motivated and enjoy oral reading?
|Above: Evie reads to her pet cat|
2. Try Readers' Theatre - I've written about this before (HERE). Obtain some free scripts and let your children have fun reading together in small groups to present the scripts to others.
3. Read to someone or something - This might seem strange, but some teachers get their children to read not to other people but to other 'things'. A number of classes in the UK and the US have had children read regularly to a school dog (read more HERE) with great success and benefits. Some creative teachers have had their children read to plastic dinosaurs (!), a favourite doll etc.
4. Some turn it into a game such as 'Reading Dice' - This involves getting children to discuss the different voices a character could have for a reading extract; they then write 6 of them on the board and giving them the numbers 1-6. They then have children work in pairs or groups to take turns, roll the dice and use the voice that matches the number.
5. Newsreader or media presenter - Teachers have a microphone (it can be a fake one) and ask children in pairs to conduct an interview for an appropriate extract.
6. Reading Masks - the children practice reading passages using the voice and persona of the mask they are wearing (these can be animals, super heroes etc).
7. Use songs for reading - The use of songs has the added advantage that the rhythm, sound repetition, melody etc can be used to support reading (see my recent post on this topic HERE)
A useful reference
Mary Ann Cahill & Anne E. Gregory (2011). Putting the fun back into fluency instruction, The Reading Teacher, Vol. 65, No. 2, pp 127-131.