Question: How can we get the most from reading aloud to young children?
Answer: By focusing less on literal meanings and more on interpretation through discussion. Quote: “This article presents how one researcher and a kindergarten teacher worked together to redesign reading aloud as a classroom practice, to focus on higher level literacy practices to meet 21st century literacy demands.” P. 184.
Quote: “I define higher level literacy practices as those focused on actively constructing meaning through analysis, interpretation, and critical thinking resulting in interpretations of text, rather than comprehension of literal-level content explicitly in text.” P. 184.
Quote: “For example, recalling character names in a story would be considered a low-level literacy practice, because that information is explicit, leaving little room for interpretation. In contrast, interpreting character motivations would be a higher level literacy practice, because the reader must analyze the information explicitly in the text and synthesize it with her own knowledge and experience to construct meaning that is interpretive and goes beyond the text itself.” P. 184.
Quote: Typical read-aloud sessions: “In a 1993 The Reading Teacher article, Hoffman, Roser, and Battle described the…average read-aloud experience from their data on 537 classroom observations:
The classroom teacher reads to students from a trade book for a period between 10 and 20 minutes. The chosen literature is not connected to a unit of study in the classroom. The amount of discussion related to the book takes fewer than 5 minutes, including talk before and after the reading.” P. 184.
Quote: Focus on interpretation read-alouds through discussion: “First, her read-aloud sessions grew longer, from approximately 23 to 30 minutes. Second, lengths of discussions within the read-aloud also expanded (increasing 45%)….”
Comment: Obviously read-alouds focusing on interpretation will require some planning. Sounds like an interesting challenge. However, don’t forget about basic comprehension. I have found that it is necessary to establish character, setting and plot BEFORE launching into interpretation. Otherwise, we can’t be sure that the students have understood the story. RayS.
Title: “Co-constructing Meaning.” Jessica L. Hoffman. The Reading Teacher (November 2011), 183-193.