Attention Middle School Teachers!

I am looking for a few “words of wisdom” for a presentation I am doing this week.  If you are a middle school teacher who uses read alouds in their classroom, I’d love to hear your thoughts/comments.

1. Why do you read to your middle schoolers?

2. How do you choose your read aloud material?

Thanks so much!


22 Responses

  1. I teach grade 5 and 6 which may/may not count as middle school (they’re 10 and 11). I read aloud for many reasons including modeling (students see how texts can be read) and to create a shared community. The community was especially strong when we read a long complex book such as The Hobbit.

    I choose book that either fit into our units or which I have loved so much I have to share.

    This year we’ve read:
    Number the Stars (Lois Lowry)
    The Hobbit (JRR Tolkein)
    parts of Mixed Up Files . . .
    Double Identity (Margaret Peterson Haddix)

    and now Operation Yes (author is escaping me at the moment)

  2. I teach sixth grade and I read aloud picture books for mini-lessons. The students LOVE it so much that they ask me to read aloud other picture books just for fun. The Plot Chickens and The Boy who Loved Words are our favorites so far.

  3. As a middle school librarian, I read to everyone all the time. Parents forget big kids like to take a break in the day and simply enjoy the concept of read-alouds. Of course, being able to incorporate parts of writing/curriculum is always a bonus.

    An English teacher and I just worked on personal narrative and “exploding the moment” using Alvin Schwartz’s “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” series. Short enough to read several in the course of a class, effective and FUN!

  4. I read aloud short stories. Students do a first reading on their own, but I do the second pass aloud in one sitting (two days in a row if need be). This allows the students to “rehear” part they’ve missed or misunderstood. It also frees them up to think about and use whatever particular active reading strategy that they are working on. I’m interested in, but I haven’t fully committed myself to, a traditional read aloud novel, yet.

  5. are you presenting at NMSA this weekend?

  6. I read aloud with my middle school students every day for 10-15 minutes. My cooperating teacher did this during my student teaching experience. While I was sometimes skeptical because they did not always seem to be 100% engaged, once I started my reading endorsement coursework I started to see the rationale/merit of read alouds for older students.

    I enjoy sharing a text with my students and using the book as an avenue to model comprehension strategies that students can then utilize when reading their own books in reading workshop.

    Lately I have been trying to find books that are available in both English and Spanish because I teach at a dual immersion school, so it is nice to have one book that I can read aloud whether we are in English or Spanish week. However, this limits my choices, so sometimes I just can’t resist a great book that is only available in English so I have a different book according to language.

    I try to make sure that the books are thought-provoking, will appeal to my students (trying to take into consideration their many different reading tastes), and that do not have content that would be awkward to read aloud.

  7. 1. I read to my middle schoolers to create shared experiences. Additionally, I use my read alouds as part of my reading and writing workshops.
    2. I read them books that I love. I read them books I think will appeal as many in my diverse classroom.

  8. Reading aloud allows me to share text that’s above my students’ reading abilities, model how to read poetry/difficult text, and share literature that ties in with what we’re learning (of which we may not have enough copies).

  9. I teach 7th & 8th grade and this is the second year that I’ve done read alouds. Last year I read Running Out of Time and the Shadow Children series to my 8th graders. They loved it. We really connected with each other and practiced a lot of reading skills (connections, predictions). I also use a lot of picture books to anchor lessons and units. The kids love it! If I was teaching high school I’d probably still do read aloud!
    So why? To create community, to teach and practice writing and reading skills, and to introduce them to books I think they might like.
    How do I choose books? I pick ones that I like that I think they might enjoy. I pick ones that will expose them to different genres, and ones that will go with things that we are studying. I also take recommendations from the students.

    Chapter books I have read aloud this year:
    7th Grade: The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z by Kate Messner;
    Schooled by Gordon Korman
    8th Grade: Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick; Blind Courage by Bill Irwin.

  10. I teach 6th grade English Language Arts at a middle school. I read-aloud almost daily to my students. I usually choose a book I “hear” about from other teachers on the Internet, and I read about the first 1/3 of the book. Then it goes on my shelf for the kids to borrow. I started this year with “Daniel X” by James Patterson. Before I finished the first 1/3, at least 5 of my students had purchased their own copies. Several kids have since read the book as well as it’s sequel.
    It’s so nice to have these books to refer back to when we are talking about strategies or anything to do with reading or writing. I have since read part of “The Giver” and lately I’ve been reading some of Paul Jennings’ short stories. The kids really seem to enjoy the read-alouds, and they always remind me if I miss a day!

  11. I read every day to my students. Generally, I try to find books that they aren’t familiar with, and I use that opportunity to introduce them to a new author. I also like to find books that might have a sequel, so that my reluctant readers (who usually love the read-aloud books) will have a book to try for an independent reading book. A few books I’ve read in years past are:

    The Schwa was Here by Neal Shusterman
    Freak the Mighty by Rodrick Philbin
    Code Orange by Caroline Cooney
    The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

    I’m starting a new book next week, Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff. My kids love mysteries so I think it will be a winner with them.

    Like above posters have said, I also use a ton of picture books to teach different strategies. I probably read 3-4 picture books a week between Reading and English.

  12. I have read aloud to 5th and now 6th graders for 22 years and feel it not only gives me teachable moments but really gets the kids reading books similar to it.
    Today for instance, I introduced literary terms personification and hyperbole. I am reading Wednesday Wars to my 6th graders and they picked out the personification and hyperbole in the part I read. Unfortunately, I only have 45 minutes which computes to much less time after roll call etc.
    As far as picking, I lean toward picking something the boys will like because if the boys like it so do the girls. Message is important and I do like to pick something that none of them have read. I also pick different genres to encourage them to read outside their comfort zones.

  13. I teach 8th grade and read aloud almost daily to my kids. I mostly read them picture books and they LOVE them!
    The students can hear a complete story in one day. I use the picture books to use as springboards for writing ideas during writing workshop. I also use picture books to review vocabulary terms- for example after we have read a book, we may talk about the theme of the story. We are going over character types ( flat, static, dynamic, round) and after we read a story we talk about what type of character(s) was in the book.
    I also teach American History and use picture books 3-4 times a week to reinforce a topic that we are covering in class. They seem to remember more from the picture books than the facts in their textbook or what we talk about in class!!
    Check out my blog I just started on reading and writing workshop and things I do. Please add it to your blogroll if you like it.
    Hope this helps…

  14. Judging from the comments it seems like reading outloud is very important. I know I liked it when I was in school.

  15. I am a grad student right now, and we discuss a lot the benefits of reading aloud to our students. I believe there is nothing that can encourage a student more than being read aloud too. Oral language is gained. Within the classroom it creates a community of readers, and promotes comprehension when they discuss it between themselves. So many shared experiences can be learned. Also children need learn as much background knowledge as possible, and reading aloud can open so many doors to authentic conversations about books and life. We must look for those teaching moments. Concerning ELL students, a child must hear thousands of words before they can begin to understand and speak the language. Therefore being read aloud to helps the student understand the syntax and semantics within the language structure. Children also need to be motivated by books, and when they see their teacher as a reader, and one who enjoys reading, there is no greater motivator.

  16. I read to my 8th graders so they are consuming what they are producing. For instance, three weeks ago, when they were producing their own sci-fi short stories, I read aloud a new sci-fi short story each day written by an author they would not pick up on their own. After the read aloud, we then conversed about what was noticed in the text and what they could take to use in their own pieces of writing that might help strengthen their piece.
    Other reasons I do read alouds is to complement the unit we are currently working on together. My students struggle with their fluency, so I believe it is beneficial for them to hear someone read fluently and with prosody.

  17. When I went back to teaching after a 12 year break (raising my own children), I was struck by how teaching English, especially at the middle school level, had changed since I began teaching in 1986. I began doing read alouds with my 6th and 8th grade students. I feared they would think I was babying them, but just the opposite happened.

    Suddenly they were begging for me to read to them. I would often read towards the end of the block depending on the time we had left after the primary lesson. No matter how much time was left, they begged to hear Wednesday Wars (8th grade) or The Watsons Go to Birmingham (6th) and would forgo chat-time and any other option (even heading early to lunch) to hear the books.

    It takes about half the year to finish one novel, but it was one of the most significant bonding experiences we had in class. Those characters became part of their lives and they refer to them to this day. I used the read alouds primarily as another avenue for either confirming their love of reading or igniting it. Students would often buy the books or seek out other books by those authors to read on their own. It also afforded us another whole class novel for discussions and comparisons to other novels we were reading. Students suddenly could hear the beauty of a great sentence or practice their reading comprehension skills. In the great balancing act of teaching grammar, writing, vocabulary, literature, etc., the time I spend reading to students is rich and valuable.

    Humor, great characters, and powerful sentence fluency are my primary requirements for a good read aloud. This year I’m reading When Zachary Beaver Came to Town to my 6th graders. They are loving it!

  18. Probably too late, but the teachers here usually read humor books aloud. I don’t like to read aloud or be read to– it’s so SLOW!!! Bad of me, but it’s always been like that. Might be good to remember that there are some students out there with the same opinion.

  19. Does anyone have a list of read alouds that match certain literary devices for middle school students? It would really help my teachers

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