CC BY-ND 2.0 Thomas Life (Flickr)
My very first headteacher was previously a Literacy advisor with ILEA. I was fortunate to team teach with her for many years and she instilled in me a love of using picture books in the infant classroom. Many of our pupils came from homes where reading aloud was not a tradition and so we read aloud to the children every single day and followed more or less the same format which I will share with you.
We always read three books: A favourite book, a brand new book and one which was on it’s way to becoming a favourite. We had a box of books marked favourites and the children decided which books made their way into it. These were generally stories which the children knew ‘off by heart’.
We actually planned for the breadth of books which we wanted to read to the class, for e.g. on a Monday it might have been a big book, Tuesdays may have been poetry etc. We read wordless books, traditional tales, chapter books, action rhymes, finger rhymes, non-fiction books, books which related to a project we may have been doing and sometimes to support the children’s emotional development.
For some stories we used flannelboards. Flannelboards provide a lovely visual display of a story or rhyme and we would often find children retelling the stories to each other using the felt pieces – fabulous for children learning English as a second language. For some stories we would use little figures and puppets also to bring the story alive.
Reading aloud really helps children to internalise the rhythm and the language of stories. This is invaluable to children when they are learning to read by themselves as they can almost predict what the words might be by using the context. It also motivates children to want to read books over and over…which is what we want!