I've had the glorious opportunity to read aloud to several classes over the last few weeks and it's given me cause to reflect on how powerful this very simple thing can be for our students.
When reading to primary students, I am a fan of the old-fashioned way of doing a read aloud. I know that technology allows us to display the pictures on the screen for everyone to see, but there is just something nice about having little ones grouped on the floor close to me while I'm reading. I try to choose a large book with great illustrations, so that even if students are at the back of the group, they can see the pictures. I also take my time, putting the book down closer to their eye level and slowly moving it from right to left so that everyone gets a chance to see the pictures. I love watching the expressions on their faces as they study the illustrations that go along with the words that I just read to them. Depending on the book, I see delight, concern, surprise and often, sheer joy.
Sometimes, however, I see puzzlement or confusion, which lets me know I need to explain vocabulary, an unfamiliar concept or allow some time for kids to ask questions about the story. This is something I might not notice if students are sitting in their desks or at library tables and I am reading from a screen.
All of us who were read to at home as children have a love for books and reading because we associate reading with the warmth and safety of a parent's lap. Being close to the students you are reading to can recreate this warm feeling and help them also associate reading with good things.
Kids get enough screen time. Read aloud time should be the time to help kids make a personal connection with us and a book. It's good for the soul!