Tips & Resources

Read aloud Tips

The following read aloud tips guarantee a standing ovation!

  1. Before you arrive, preview the book. Be aware of words, concepts or situation that may require explanation. Be prepared to clear up any confusing parts with the students.
  2. Once you arrive, but before you start reading:
    • Remind children of the rules for being good listeners. Encourage them to listen by setting a task: “Listen for the name of the sister in the story”; “Let’s see what prank the girl plays on her brother.”
    • Read the title, and the names of the author(s) and illustrator(s). Talk about the illustrations on the front and back cover.
    • Create a connection with the book. Explain to students why you selected the book, i.e. it’s about farm animals and you grew up on a farm, your grandpa read it to you every summer when you went to visit, you are afraid of spiders and if you read about them you will not be so afraid of them.
  3. Once you start reading:
    • Read with expression. Use inflection and change your voice.
    • Give different characters different voices.
    • Read at a pace that is not too fast or too slow.
    • Pause periodically to:
      • Look at the illustrations.
      • Re-tell what has happened so far in the story.
      • Encourage the audience to predict what might happen next.
      • Engage the audience
        1. Talk about the BIG IDEAS in the story. (i.e. friendship, responsibility, family, courage)
        2. Discuss the characters in the story. (i.e. How do you think a character felt when this happened? Why do you think a character behaved a certain way? What would you do if you were a certain character in the book?)
  4. Before you leave the classroom, ask the teacher if they have any constructive feedback and/or reading recommendations that complement the curriculum.

Tips for choosing books

Selecting books is often an overwhelming process for new and seasoned volunteers, alike. There are hundreds of thousands of children’s books out there, so how do you know which ones your class will enjoy?

  1. Organize your school year into monthly themes. You can check out our BookPALS Monthly Themes & Book Suggestions (there are over 100 picture books on the list, plus chapter books).
  2. Visit the Children’s Librarian at your local library. Children’s Librarians are well versed in the reading trends of children and can assist you in finding age-appropriate books for your classroom(s).
  3. Google It! You can search “great read alouds for 2nd grade” and find all sorts of amazing book lists. Then, go to your local library to borrow them.
  4. Discuss book options with the classroom teacher. He/she may suggest that you read stories that align with the curriculum. For example, if the class is learning about bats, the teacher may ask that you read an informative story on bats.


How many books do you bring for a 30 minute read aloud?

The attention spans of students will vary by grade. We estimate spending about 6 – 10 minutes, per book. The total time includes reading the story, pausing for illustrations, asking engaging questions and interacting with the audience.  Having said that, it is recommended that you prepare 5-6 books for your first few classroom read alouds. You never really know what the students are going to like or how much time a story may take with your students. It is better to err on being over-prepared and have a few book options, just I case! Once you get in your groove with the class, you will be able to plan accordingly.

More help is available:

  1. Read Aloud America provides book lists of the best read aloud books since 2010. Books are categorized by grade and are current for today’s students.
  2. Visit your local children’s library and ask for assistance.
  3. Ask the classroom teacher for recommendations that complement curriculum.
  4. Google “Great Books To Read Aloud” for lots of book lists by grade and genre