I love reading to my students. When the schools were closed, this was the one thing I missed. Really missed.
My first day of school is in a few weeks, and while I don’t know a lot about what will happen this school year, I know that I will read books to my students daily.
Check out these tips to get your virtual read alouds on and popping!
Know Publishers’ Read Aloud Policies
Teachers don’t make a lot of money. The last thing any of us want are copyright issues. To prevent any problems, make sure you understand what you can and cannot do when reading books online.
Recently, I read an article that stated that teachers have permission to virtually read aloud books because of fair use. This article explains why we can read online to our students; I still think it’s smart to understand each publisher’s policy.
The article and publishers make it very clear that reading online to students should benefit them and not you (to increase your social media following, monetary gain, etc.).
In March, I wrote a blog post with publishers permissions, as of 8/2/2020, some publishers have extended their deadlines. Others probably will soon.
Pick a Way to Read
How you virtually read to your students will play a significant role in their engagement.
For my first remote read aloud, I filmed myself (with my cellphone) reading the book as if I would read to my students in class. So, I was sitting in a chair and holding the book toward the camera.
For the next book, I recorded the pages as I was reading. My thinking was that they would be able to read along and had a better view of the illustrations.
After doing it both ways, I asked my students which way they preferred. They unanimously agreed that they like seeing the pages because they could read with me.
This school year, I plan on mixing it up and doing it both ways. Since my students don’t know me, I want them to see my face as much as possible, but I also want to give them opportunities to read along.
Read As If You Are In the Classroom aka Show Your Personality
During our read alouds in class, we make jokes, I make connections, and or model skills while reading.
At first, this was missing from my virtual read alouds. It was bizarre being alone reading a book for my students.
As I got more comfortable, I started inserting my ad-libs to make the reading more personable and fun.
This school year, showing my personality will be even more important so that I can virtually build relationships.
Just because the read aloud is virtual, doesn’t mean you can’t ask students about the book.
Once we went online, I would assign a Google Form with questions about the book that students would answer after reading. If the questions referred to a specific part of the book, I would include a picture of the book page, so the students had the text to help them answer the questions.
Just like in class, I would not ask more than five questions.
Don’t Ask Questions
While it is essential to assess students’ comprehension, model thinking, etc, reading to students for pleasure is also important.
At least once a week in class and online, I read a book just for fun.
I plan on increasing days like this in the fall.
Some of my students will have a hard time getting their hands on books this school year, so ensuring that students can hear a book a day is important.
Use these tips to get your virtual read alouds started! If you’re looking for diverse picture books to read to your students, you’ll love The Ultimate List of Diverse Picture Books. There are over 250 books to make your virtual read alouds a blast!