Read Aloud Festival with Joanne Saldanah – “Read aloud sessions have been responsible for converting many reluctant readers to eager beaver readers and borrowers.”

This guest piece is a part of the Read Aloud Festival, organised by Hasirudala and Buguri Community Libraries, and supported by Radio Active CR 90.4 MHz to mark ‘World Read Aloud Day’ on February 1st, 2019. We reached out to children’s books authors and editors, community library groups, educators, parents, and other practitioners to share their personal experiences of read alouds and the benefits the practice promises.

I work with kids from two private schools in Chennai – they range in age from 6 to 16. I actively read aloud and narrate stories orally with grades 2-7, and on request, with the older children.

Every class in the library includes a story or a read aloud from a book. It is a great way to introduce the new books in the library, to discuss various issues, and to spark creativity and imagination.

Every read aloud is preceded by a pre-reading discussion, game or song which sets the tone for the book, and ends with a post-reading activity or discussion.

Read aloud sessions have been responsible for converting many reluctant readers to eager beaver readers and borrowers. Working with mixed-age group classes, it is not unusual to see children forming small groups and reading aloud to one another. This has fostered both reading and listening skills and some rather dramatic storytelling.

This year, for World Read Aloud day, the children read aloud to each other in groups. The children formed groups, chose the books each one wanted to read, and spent 30 minutes reading aloud to each other.

In most groups, children each took turns to read aloud a book of their choice, but some other groups took turns to read aloud the different pages of the book. Some readers chose to dramatise their reading and some groups had huge debates about the book selection.

The older elementary children were given a list of clues which led them to a variety of books. Once they found all the books on their list, they sat down in their groups and read out the first chapter from each book. This exercise was done to encourage browsing, as by doing so, children are exposed to a range of books on the shelf. They also had to solve the clues together as a team, and then read aloud to each other.

A workshop was conducted for the teachers to expose them to read aloud techniques that can enhance their read aloud sessions in the classrooms.
An interactive board urged children to share their favourite books for reading aloud and the reasons why they chose them.

Written by Joanne Saldanah.

Joanne Saldanha is a library educator based in Chennai.

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