Reading to the young is fun, but can be challenging if you are new to it. With that in mind, here are twelve tips for capturing and keeping the attention and interest of preschool – K-2 audiences at picture book read-aloud events. (Perfect for authors or anyone reading aloud to this age range.)
BEFORE THE STORY:
- Have the children gather around you – close up.
- Begin with a focusing activity, such as a song or clapping response game (or a fun book-themed gameshow style quiz as I do with LITTLE EWE).
- Briefly tell a little bit about who you are, your inspiration for story etc. in a playful, kid-friendly way. (Optional: Bring a long a couple of props to help with this. I bring puppets and, perhaps a hat or other book-themed apparel, such as my most recent bunny hat that I wore whilst reading BUNNY FINDS EASTER!)
DURING THE STORY:
4. Be animated and excited. Read with expression.
5. Make eye contact. Remember, you aren’t just reading, you are interacting with your readers.
6. Before turning each page, be sure to hold the book up and pan it around the room slowly so everyone has a chance to enjoy the illustration.
7. Involve the children in the storytelling. (By using body motions and sounds, for example.)
8. Pause occasionally to point out something from the illustrations that they might not notice, but which adds to the story.
9. As you read, occasionally ask questions like “What do you think will happen next? Would you want to be…?” (But don’t do #8 and #9 so much that you break the flow of the story.)
AFTER THE STORY:
10. Share a fun post-reading activity such as a simple craft or song.
11. Depending on age and attentiveness of group, have a brief Q&A session.
12. Thank the children for being such a great audience and thank their parents or guardians for bringing them to the event. Remember also to thank the event host.