“It is not the text that matters, it is the talk about the text that matters.” – Christopher Lonigan
Interactive read aloud looks different with very young children. When we read aloud with older children, there is an assumption that the children are have basic oral language skills enough to engage in interactions about the text. The challenge for educators when reading to these children is to make sure we are engaging children in higher-level cognition by thinking about the levels of questions we ask. When we read aloud with very young children, we cannot assume that they have basic oral language to talk about ideas in a book. Therefore, interactive read aloud in an early childhood classroom is focused on developing this talk in different stages- first by pointing and labeling, then by revisiting the book and retelling, then by elaborating and building on ideas.
This short video (3:50) provides a quick overview of the importance of engaging in dialog during read aloud.
For a more in depth view, listen as Christopher Lonigan introduces Dialogic Reading. Use the note taking template to capture key ideas about each level.
Repeated interactive read-alouds, a systematic method of reading aloud, allow teachers to scaffold children's understanding of the book being read, model strategies for making inferences and explanations, and teach vocabulary and concepts. A storybook is read three times in slightly different ways to increase the amount and quality of children's analytical talk as they answer carefully crafted questions. During the first reading, teachers introduce the story's problem, insert comments, ask a few key questions, and finally ask a "why" question calling for extended explanation. This is accompanied by elaborations on a few key vocabulary words. Second reads capitalize on children's growing comprehension of the story by providing enriched vocabulary explanations and asking additional inference and explanation questions. Third reads consist of guided reconstruction of the story in which children recount information as well as provide explanations and commentary. These techniques have shown to be effective in increasing children's engagement, understanding, and appreciation of literature in preschool and kindergarten settings.
Read the article, Repeated Interactive Read Alouds. Because this is a longer text, you may want to use a jigsaw protocol to discuss.
Then, select a text you want to use in upcoming read aloud. Spend time collaboratively planning repeated interactive read aloud using this template or a modified version. Before you meet again, practice this method of interactive read aloud in the classroom. If possible, have a peer observe you, and observe a peer practicing the same method.