Three Strategies for Reading Aloud With Preschoolers

Preschoolers Reading Aloud In A Group

In The Read-Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease quotes an old education adage that says, “What we teach children to love and desire will always outweigh what we make them learn.” Try one or more of the following strategies for reading aloud with preschoolers to increase enjoyment and engagement as you and your child read together!

1. Take a picture walk with your preschooler.

When beginning a new book with your child, page through it and ask your child to respond to the illustrations. For example, when reading Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat for the first time, you might ask:

        1. What do you think a cat wearing a hat might be like?
        2. How do you think the boy and girl are feeling here?
        3. What do you think might happen next?

After reading, talk with your child about which of their inferences matched up with the story and which parts of the story surprised them.

2. Say repeated words and phrases together while reading aloud.

Once a book is familiar, enliven an encounter by encouraging your child to join in saying words or phrases that repeat. For example, when rereading Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, you might read together the repeated title question and the repeated phrase, “I see a _____ looking at me.” Choral reading is fun, boosts confidence, and helps your child link text to sound.

3. Ask open-ended questions about the story.

When rereading a familiar book, ask for your child’s reactions. Questions like What is your favorite part of the story? and Which character would you like to be friends with? encourage a child to verbalize their feelings about a book, and show that you are interested in understanding your child’s thinking.

Senior Professional Learning Consultant and Editor. Nancy Carr has over 20 years of experience as both a professional development coach and a curriculum developer, working in schools throughout the country and with a wide range of student populations. Her work focuses on the intersection of curriculum materials and classroom practice, and she has helped develop many of the Foundation’s current K–12 materials. Nancy holds a PhD in English from the University of Virginia.