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NCTE: Reading Aloud

I spent most of Saturday at NCTE wandering the Exhibit Hall, meeting authors, gathering books, and attending my own book signing. Pictures from the day appear on my Facebook fan page for The Book Whisperer.

Dragging my suitcase behind me, preparing to dash off to the airport, I attended one last session Sunday morning. Sarah Mulhern, host of The Reading Zone blog and member of the Kidlitosphere, shared her tips and resources for using read alouds with her middle school students.

Read alouds provide amazing benefits to students, even those in the upper grades.

Read alouds:

  • Reinforce to students that reading is enjoyable.
  • Build background knowledge.
  • Increase vocabulary and introduce words in context.
  • Provide a fluent reading role model.
  • Create common literacy experiences for the class that can be referred to over time.
  • Allow students to focus on comprehension rather than decoding.


Sarah dedicates the first eight to fifteen minutes of her 55 minute class to daily read aloud time. The first half of the year, the read alouds she chooses are part of a mock Newbery contest she holds with her students. So far, her classes have enjoyed Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me and Also Known As Harper by Ana Haywood Leal. Both titles appear on numerous top pick lists for this year's Newbery Award.

Sarah provided several websites she uses for selecting and reviewing books to choose for read alouds. This list provides abundant reviews, lists, and links for teachers and librarians.

Reading Rants

Fuse #8 Production

Jen Robinson's Book Page

Abby the Librarian

A Year of Reading

Literate Lives

Shelf Elf

The Cybills

I.N.K. Interesting Nonfiction for Kids

The Miss Rumphius Effect

Sarah's fantastic blog


Once again, the NCTE Convention recharged me and introduced me to books and ideas that I will use with my classroom when school resumes after the Thanksgiving break. I am buried in books to read and thoughts I need to record. I am eternally thankful for organizations like NCTE that provide professional development and support to so many teachers.


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