you're reading...
Dear IC, Elementary

Dear IC…Teaching Reading Skills with an Engaging Read-Aloud

By Laura Washington, Teaching Excellence

Dear IC,

I am an elementary teacher who is looking for ways to keep my students engaged during our reading lessons. We have been working a lot on the same skills throughout the school year (cause and effect, point of view, and making inferences) and I am looking for some new books to use during our read-alouds that will reinforce what I have taught while still keeping students excited about the new material. What are your favorite books to use to teach the skills mentioned above?


Reed Everyday

Dear Reed,

What a great question! Short and sticky read-alouds are a FANTASTIC way to reinforce previously taught skills, introduce students to new text, and get students excited for reading class. The length of the books usually allows you to make it all the way through the story in one or two days and still give students plenty of opportunities to answer questions as you read. If you find a book that could be used for multiple skills, consider using it to teach different skill throughout the week. (Monday: Characterization Tuesday: Plot Elements Wednesday: Cause and Effect Thursday: Making Inferences Friday: Quiz) Below are some of my favorite books to use when teaching the skills you mentioned above.


IC Laura

Cause and Effect

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

By Judith Viorst

In this story, nothing can seem to go right for Alexander. His day starts off when he wakes up with gum in his hair, and only gets worse from there. This story can help your students “work backwards” to identify the causes and effects (the why and the what). Students who have ever had a bad day themselves can also make text-to-self connections.

Sample question during the read-aloud:

What happened to Alexander at school? His teacher liked someone else’s picture better than his. (Effect)

Why? Alexander drew an invisible castle that no one could see. (Cause)

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

By William Steig

In this book, Sylvester finds a magic pebble that grants wishes. Unfortunately, when a lion comes his way, Sylvester wishes that he was a rock and instantly becomes one. Students will be on the edge of their seats waiting to see if anyone can save poor Sylvester.

Sample question during the read-aloud:

What happened when Sylvester held the pebble and wished for the rain to stop? The rain stopped and the sun came out. (Effect)

Why did this happen? The pebble was a magic pebble, and granted wishes to whoever was holding it. (Cause)

Point of View

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

As told to Jon Scieszka

For students who are familiar with the classic fairytale of the three little pigs, this book is written from the bid bag wolf’s point of view. Students will get a kick out of hearing what “really” happened with all of that huffing, and puffing, and blowing houses down. This story could also be used to teach author’s purpose or used to compare/contrast plot events with the traditional fairytale.

Two Bad Ants

By Chris Van Allsburg

In this story, two very curious ants leave their nest to find “treasure” and end up on a wild adventure. The illustrations in this book are drawn from the point of view of the ants, which allows students to see normal objects in a completely new way. This book could also be used in a prediction lesson where the teacher asks students to predict what is happening to the ant based on the text and illustrations.

Making Inferences

Ruby the Copycat

By Peggy Rothman

No matter what Angela does, Ruby seems to do the exact same thing! This story gives students an opportunity to make inferences and predictions about what Ruby will do next AND why they think she keeps copying Angela.

The Sweetest Fig

By Chris Van Allsburg

In this story, Monsieur Bibot, a dentist and highly unlikable man, is given figs as payment from one of his patients. Upon eating one of the figs and falling asleep, Monsieur Bibot awakens to find that eating the fig has made his dreams from the previous night come true! This story is full of twists and turns, and will allow students to use the text evidence to make inferences about characters and plot events.

Please share your read-aloud strategies with us below!



No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow us on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: