Weaving Children’s Literature into Social Studies K–5

F. Interactive Read-Aloud Activity: Interactive Read Aloud as a Teaching Strategy and Route to Inquiry

Suggested Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


  • overhead of Interactive Read Aloud (Appendix VIII)
  • overhead of Sparking Inquiry Through Children’s Literature: The Moccasins (Appendix XV)
  • books as selected by participants

Participant Handout:

  • Interactive Read Aloud (Appendix VIII)
  • Sparking Inquiry Through Children’s Literature (Appendix XVI)
  1. Explain and discuss with participants the Interactive Read Aloud as a teaching strategy as outlined below:

    Reading aloud to students is of great instructional value throughout the elementary school years (Calkins 20011, Huck, Hepler & Hickman 19932; and Trelease 19953). We use the term interactive in connection with reading aloud to children to emphasize the active learning that goes on. Students do not simply listen passively and silently; listening is an active process. Drawing from carefully selected texts and providing engaging oral reading enables the teacher to involve students deeply in stories, in getting to know unforgettable characters, or in thinking about intriguing new information. Such in-depth explorations automatically lead to asking questions and help to spark inquiry.

    The interactive read-aloud strategy is an excellent opportunity for students to discuss high quality fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Picture books are an outstanding choice! Certainly teachers will want to read good chapter books; but they can vary and enrich students’ exposure to texts by also reading nonfiction books and articles, short stories, picture books, folktales and poetry.

    Reading aloud fluently and expressively communicates enthusiasm for reading and helps students realize its value. Invite students to read picture books and poetry aloud to one another. They can select and practice the stories and poems and “sign up” to present them.

    We use the term interactive to characterize the teacher and students having a conversation as they process the text together (Barrentine 1998).4

    Appendix VIII, Interactive Read Aloud, filename Interactive Read Aloud.doc, provides some general suggestions for making interactive read-aloud sessions an enjoyable and engaging experience. This page may be used as a handout and may also be made into an overhead. Quickly go over the points so that everyone has a clear idea of how to do an Interactive Read Aloud.

  2. Using the same groups organized earlier, have participants compare the standard read aloud with the Interactive Read Aloud. Do this by having them contribute to a large double-bubble chart. Appendix XIV, entitled Read Aloud as Compared to Interactive Read Aloud, filename Double Bubble.doc is an example of such a chart completed by participants in a pilot workshop.

  3. Read aloud The Moccasins, by Earl Einarson, modeling the Interactive Read Aloud process. It works well to make overheads of the pictures in this book to use during reading aloud, as the story is short and it has small pictures. Briefly discuss some of the possibilities offered by the book. What links/entry points would you use in this story?

  4. Put up the sample overhead found in Appendix XV, Sparking Inquiry Through Children’s Literature: The Moccasins, filename Sparking Inquiry Moccasins.doc, which shows the links and possibilities found by one teacher.

  5. In groups, have participants select any promising book to read aloud. One participant should read the book to the group. As a group or individually, participants should develop a table of various categories and record specific links and possibilities. Appendix XVI, entitled Sparking Inquiry Through Children’s Literature, filename Sparking Inquiry.doc, provides a blank handout for this activity. After completion, have participants share some of their ideas and discoveries with others at their tables or with the whole group.
  1. Calkins, Lucy. The Art of Teaching Reading. New York: Longman, 2001.
  2. Huck, Susan, Hepler, Janet, Hickman, Barbara Z., Children's Literature in the Elementary School. Orlando: Harcourt Brace, 1993.
  3. Trelease, Jim. The Read-Aloud Handbook. 4th ed. New York: Penquin, 1995.
  4. Adapted from: Fountas, Irene C. and Gay Su Pinnell, Guiding Readers and Writers, Heinemann, 2001.
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This resource was developed by ERLC as a result of a grant from Alberta Education to support implementation.