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Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of May 6, 2019

posted May 6, 2019, 6:31 PM by Courtney Richardson
Read Alouds + Chapter 7 = Powerful Instruction Combination
Chapter 7 of Next Steps Forward and high-quality picture books are a perfect combination! Students, not only need, but deserve rich literacy experiences that exemplify excellence and equity. The use of high-quality picture books during read-alouds can provide an entry point into engaging instruction that demonstrates how to use comprehension strategies and develops core knowledge, expanding students’ understanding of the world.

1. Start by selecting a high-quality picture book that will interest students and connect or expand knowledge of cultures, backgrounds, or concepts found in other content areas. Look for a variety of text types and genres connected to other disciplines such as Science, Social Studies, Mathematics and the Arts. Lists of award winning texts can be found at and Additionally, consider texts by authors in your city, region, or state.
2. Read through the text several times, paying careful attention to how you construct meaning as a reader. Consider the following questions to determine what rich elements the text contains and at what level readers have the opportunity to engage (Gold & Gibson, 2019).
  • Is it a good story?
  • Is it worth sharing with my students?
  • Does the story sound good to the ear when read aloud?
  • Will it appeal to your students?
  • Will students find the text relevant to their lives and culture?
  • Will the text spark conversation?
  • Will the text motivate deeper topical understanding?
  • Does the text inspire students to find or listen to another book on the same topic? By the same author? Written in the same genre?
  • Is the text memorable?
  • Will students want to hear or read the story again?
3. Select a comprehension strategy from Chapter 7 that matches your standards, meets the needs of your students, and can be taught using the selected text. Keep in mind that really great texts can often be used to teach multiple strategies! Personally, these are my favorites! 
4. Construct a series of lessons (2-3 days) using an interactive read aloud format for whole group instruction. Plan your lessons by looking for three to four stopping points within the text to pause and teach the comprehension strategy. Use a gradual release model at each stopping point, placing more of the work on students each time.
5. Use the first day in the sequence of your lessons as a straight read aloud through the text, keeping any pausing to a minimum and stopping only to highlight vocabulary, complex structures, or illustrations. This will allow students to take in the entire story. Consider asking students to apply a retelling strategy (BME or 5 Finger Retell) once the text is completed. 
6. The next day, do a quick review of the text and teach new vocabulary words using the four steps for vocabulary introduction. At the first stopping point, teach students how to apply the selected comprehension strategy. During each consecutive stopping point, ask student partnerships to work together, practicing the comprehension strategy as you provide support and scaffolding.
7. The following day use the same text and format to teach a deeper level comprehension strategy, Modules 23-28, or construct a shared writing piece together.
8. Consider revisiting portions of the book and teaching mini-lessons that push deeper into writing about the text, foundational literacy skills, word knowledge, or author’s craft on additional days.

Combining read alouds with comprehension instruction is one of the most powerful practices you can implement in your classroom. It levels the playing field and allows for ALL readers to collaboratively practice and engage with texts at a deep, sophisticated level. Meticulous selecting of texts along with intentional planning can enrich the reading lives of your students and lead to more meaningful comprehension when reading independently.

Gold, J. & Gibson, A. (2019). Reading aloud to build comprehension. Retrieved from

Written by: Debbie Rosenow, Next Steps Literacy Consultant,