Read Aloud Tips

Reading aloud to young children is important because it helps them acquire the information and skills they need to succeed in school and in life. As teachers, we need to:

• Make reading books an enjoyable experience
• Read to children frequently
• Help children learn as they read
• Encourage children to talk about the book
• Ask children questions as you read

Comprehension Questioning Activities

Many read aloud programs train teachers and parents to ask purposeful questions about books to increase children’s language skills and give students a purpose for listening (Wasik, Bond, & Hindman, 2006; Whitehurst, et al., 1988). One effective way to do this is to ask a guiding question before reading and then discuss that one, important question in detail after reading (Denton, Solari, Ciancio, Hecht, & Swank, 2010; Solari and Gerber, 2008).

Guiding Questions:

• Set a purpose for listening and generate interest
• Require responses that are open-ended and can be extended
• Improve comprehension and encourage higher-level thinking
• Consider the whole book
• Gradually become more challenging across repeated readings

Guiding questions are usually a rich, open-ended questions that can have several answers, allowing children to respond in different ways.


Denton, C. A., Solari, E. J., Ciancio, D. J., Hecht, S. A., & Swank, P. R. (2010). A pilot study of akindergarten summer school reading program in high-poverty urban schools. The Elementary School Journal, 110, 423-439.

Early Childhood Head Start Task Force at the US Department of Education (2007). Teaching our youngest: A guide for preschool teachers and child care and family providers. Retrieved from

Solari, E. J., & Gerber, M. M. (2008). Early comprehension instruction for Spanish‐speaking English language learners: Teaching text‐level reading skills while maintaining effects on word‐level skills. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 23, 155-168.

Wasik, B. A., Bond, M. A., & Hindman, A. (2006). The effects of a language and literacy intervention on Head Start children and teachers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 63.

Whitehurst, G. J., Falco, F. L., Lonigan, C. J., Fischel, J. E., DeBaryshe, B. D., Valdez-Menchaca, M. C., & Caulfield, M. (1988). Accelerating language development through picture book reading. Developmental Psychology, 24, 552.

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