I have had lot of people ask me, since I have over 400 interactive read aloud lesson plans in my TPT store, how to plan interactive read alouds. I’m not going to lie, it’s a process. Planning one interactive read aloud takes me about 2.5 hours with Netflix on or 2 hours without Netflix 😉 The best part about the process, though, is that you have a plan that will last you forever. Today I’m going to start walking you through my process that I go through when planning each of my interactive read alouds.
Finding the Perfect Book
1. Determine what you need to teach
Having an extensive book knowledge is one thing, but not very many people have read that many books. How do you find the right book when you’ve just changed grade levels or you’re a new teacher or you’re new to teaching literacy? Where do you start?
Questions to ask yourself:
- What standards do I need to teach?
- Is there a theme that I want/have to teach to?
- Is something seasonal happening to connect to?
- What am I teaching in science/social studies to connect to?
Notice a pattern there? CONNECTION!
Do not fit what you are teaching to the book, fit the book to what you are teaching!
I get it. You may have a book that you love to teach. By all means teach it. Just for the love of pedagogy do it when it makes sense so that you can really dig into it as much as you want.
Once you know what you need to teach, you can find just the right book to teach it and have it connect to more than just the reading standards you need to teach. A truly perfect book will have connections to what you are teaching in literacy, writing, and social studies/science.
We have a million things to teach and half the time to teach it all. Picking the right book for an interactive read aloud saves you time.
2. Gather possible books
So you know what you need to teach, now it’s time to find some possible books. Where do yo get ideas for possible books when you haven’t gone through this process before?
Start with the content area topic in your search. Many books can be fit to match your literacy standards, but it’s far harder to match just any book to your social studies or science standards.
Does this mean that all of my read alouds are nonfiction? NO WAY! That wouldn’t be any fun! The books you choose do not need to be directly connected to the content you are teaching, but you DO need to be able to make SOME connection.
Also, the book you choose should probably be a picture book. The idea of an interactive read aloud is to quick get in and get out with whatever you want to teach. If you choose a chapter book, it will take up a lot of time, and the idea is to save time. So stick with picture books. I wrote an entire blog post about why picture books are better if you’re still skeptical. Give it a read here.
Where do I search for books?
- School Library / Public Library
- Google / Pinterest
- Josh! (Ask me on Facebook or email)
These are all the places that I go searching for books, and I gather a number of them before choosing one. Basically consult your book experts and get a few ideas so that you can make the best decision for your own needs.
I like Amazon’s Children’s Books section because I see a lot of the new books that are getting a lot of buzz. A lot of times these books aren’t in your school library yet, but it can give you some ideas of what to ask your librarian or public library to purchase if the book looks good.
Did you know that you can request books to be purchased from your public library? Mine knows me by name 🙂
3. Choose the best book
You’ve got some possibilities now. Now it’s time to choose. First, read through the books. Are they rigorous enough? If you’re not sure, look up the book’s reading level. Since you will be reading the book aloud, you want the book to be slightly above grade level up to 3 grade levels above.
Why up to 3 grade levels above? Researchers have found that students can comprehend text up to 3 grade levels above their own grade level when it is read aloud to them. That is, students’ listening comprehension is usually 1-3 grade levels above their reading level. This is why it’s so important to read aloud if we want to close the gap!
After you’ve eliminated any books that aren’t quite rigorous enough, you want to decide if YOU like the book. Half the battle in getting kids interested in reading is showing them that you yourself are interested in reading. Never underestimate that power. If you are reading them a book that you aren’t particularly enthused by, it’s going to be hard to get any buy-in with them.
Next I ask: Will any of my students in particular connect with this book? If you can start reading a book and say that you think that Jimmy in your class will really like it, you have immediate buy-in from that student and usually from a good number of other kids in your class. Even if that student does not connect with that book, the kids will have made that connection with you that you are looking for books to read to them that you think that they will like.
What else do ask when making my final selection?
- Which book is going to most easily connect with everything else I am trying to teach?
- Which book will connect to the most other topics I am trying to teach?
- Which book will I be able to connect to previous learning and future learning? Bring that book back later if you can!
- Will the illustrations or words really draw my kids in?
You’ve found the perfect book!
You’ve done it now! The perfect book to read to your kids is in your hands and now you’re ready to plan out what you want to do with it. This is a mentor text because it’s rigorous, it connects to multiple subject areas, and it’s enjoyable.
Now it’s your turn to find the perfect read aloud book. Follow these steps and check back soon when I teach you how to plan interactive read alouds after finding the best book to read aloud.
While you wait, check out my 5 step guide to making your interactive read alouds better. Sign up below!