Students are exposed to read-alouds much less frequently as they move from elementary to middle school. However, research continues to show that kids are never too old to listen to a great story read by an animated reader.
If it seems like a “waste” of time, time that could be used for more serious instruction, think again!
Why read aloud to older students?
- Reading out loud to students up through eighth grade continues to foster the skills required to be a strong reader. Research shows that listening to someone read is the single most important activity for reading success. For older students, reading aloud motivates them to seek books to read independently
- Students can listen to more complex language and comprehend at a higher level. As they listen, they are often exposed to vocabulary that is not part of their usual speech. They also begin to recognize the importance of phrasing, pronunciation and expression. Reading aloud offers a chance to model fluency. In a survey conducted by the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy teachers stated that they read aloud so students could concentrate on comprehension without worrying about pronunciation.
- While listening to a story, students can make valuable personal connections and experience other ways of thinking and being. A shared reading experience opens the doors to rich conversations based on themes, characters, settings, and the writing process.
- When a text is read well, middle grade students rank it as one of their favorite activities in school, including kids who are frequently disengaged. It’s fun for students. Reading aloud, however, takes some practice. The best readers use their voice and facial expressions to bring the pages to life.
- Reading aloud can fit into many subject areas not just English or language arts. When nonfiction texts are read aloud students can concentrate on the information without struggling over pronunciation of new vocabulary. Reading aloud can help to level the playing field.
Good Reads has a list of suggestions for middle grade read-alouds. Voracious student readers are another great resource. Tested titles that work with middle-schoolers include:
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos
Bud, not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel