Have you ever considered reading a novel out loud to your high school students? Reading aloud age appropriate novels to your students, even those who struggle with paying attention and comprehension, can have a lot of benefits.
1. Choosing a book
The first step is giving your students a chance to choose the book they want you reading aloud. A great way to do this is to either lay several books out on the table, or print off copies of the book cover. Give each student a sticky note to place on the book they would like to read next.
You can then turn this into a great math activity, counting up and graphing the results.
But, how do you decided which books to even let your students choose from? Here are some things I found were important to consider:
- Is there a movie I can show once we are done? This is always a big hit and motivator to stick with a longer book.
- Is the language going to be a problem? Some books for high school use words that most students would know are not appropriate to repeat or use. They are just part of the historical context of the story. But our students may have more difficulty with this when you are reading aloud. If you do choose a book with questionable language (Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird are good examples), I would suggest skipping over those words as you are reading aloud. You could substitute a different word, or just leave a blank in the sentence. Your kids will likely never notice.
- Does it contain subject matter that is of high interest? Many of our students tend to perseverate on certain topics like trains, lions, dragons, etc. If I can find a novel that pulls in some of these topics that peak the interest of my students, then I am sure to add that as a choice. Make sure the image of the book you use highlights that high interest subject matter.
Now that you have chosen a book, it is time to think about how you will set this time of the day up to be most successful. Each classroom’s furniture and size differs so you will have to determine some of this on an individual basis. Here are some things I found were important to consider:
- When you are reading aloud, students pay attention better when they sit in a chair at a table. It is tempting to set up a reading nook where your students can sprawl out and get comfortable while you are reading aloud. Unless your students are very different than mine were, it can be challenging to keep their attention when they are laying down or lounging in a bean bag chair. For this reason, I really liked having them all sit at the table with me together.
- For the same reasons mentioned above, I don’t like students sitting too close to one another. It just added distractions and sparked behaviors, especially if you have a student who is truly trying to listen to you.
3. Reading aloud
You have chosen the book you will be reading aloud and the students are all seated in a comfortable (but not too comfortable) place. Cue every distraction possible. Once you have your students seated and ready to listen, you want to keep the flow as uninterrupted as possible. That means you will have to do a few things ahead of time. But, not a lot. That is what is so great about this part of your day. It should require very little prep while still filling a good 20-30 minute block of time with an age-appropriate activity that all of your students can participate in one way or another. Prior to reading, here are some things I found were important to consider:
- Decide how long you will ideally read for. That means if the chapters are super long, you may need to find a natural stopping point ahead of time. Try to stop reading before you start losing their attention. Ideally 15 minutes is a great length of time to shoot for. If you use my novel units, you will find I have several activities for each chapter. So finding where in the chapter an activity fits is a good way to find a stopping place. You may not start at 15 minutes, but hopefully in a few weeks you can build up to it.
- Make sure EVERY student has a vocabulary board or access to their communication device. It you use one of my novel units, I always include a vocabulary board. It is a great way for students to ask questions, follow along, and even request a break. I would definitely laminate them or place them in a page protector for more durability. To learn more about using vocabulary boards, you can watch this short video HERE.
- Decide about how you will handle breaks. Every vocabulary board I create has a place where students can request a break. Again, you will know your students best. The goal is to get all your students to stay for the entire time you are reading. But, you may need to shape this with breaks, timers, and other visual cues to help your students understand how long they will actually be sitting and listening to you read.
I have quiet a few novel units perfect for your high school students here in my store and on teacherspayteachers. You can even get a free copy of Number the Stars in the Free Resource Library. CLICK HERE if you need the password.
Here are the novel units I have for high school.
- A Christmas Carol
- Call of the Wild
- Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone
- pictures of hollis woods
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
- The Outsiders
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- A Dog Called Kitty
- A Long Walk to Water
- A Wrinkle in Time
- Alice in Wonderland
- Esperanza Rising
- Max: Best Friend, Hero, Marine
- No Talking
- Number the Stars
- Old Yeller
- Penny from Heaven
- Summer of the Monkeys
- The Giver
- The Isle of the Lost
- The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
- The Wednesday Wars
- Where the Red Fern Grows
- Freak the Mighty
- Small Steps
If you have a novel study you think would be a great addition and other teachers would love, please fill out the form below. I LOVE hearing what other teachers and parents are reading with their kids.