5 Ways to Make Read Alouds More Meaningful

Pile of novels at the upper elementary level. Perfect for middle grade read alouds

    I get it. You have curriculum, testing, behavior challenges...read alouds aren't really THAT big of a deal, right?? WRONG!! 

    Each time you push your read aloud to another day you are missing out on serious and valuable learning in your classroom. As your students listen they are building stamina, listening comprehension, and language skills. Not to mention they are exposed to a text they may not choose on their own, they build classroom community, and they begin to FALL in LOVE with reading! 

    But, keeping up with that read aloud time is hard! With so many distractions it’s important to reflect on what works for your class and to be thoughtful with your choices. Here are 5 read aloud tips for teachers:

Pin Image Title "5 Ways to Make Read Alouds More Meaningful" along with a pile of books at a middle grades level

How do you make read alouds more fun?


When I first started choosing read alouds I would nostalgically pick my favorite books. But I realized they weren’t always the best choices for my class. 

    Read alouds became MUCH more meaningful for students when I began thinking more about what they needed. You should choose relevant texts by asking the following questions: 

  • Is there something that needs to be addressed in my class?
  • Do we have a bullying problem, cliques, tattling, etc.?
  • In another subject, are we studying an event or time period to which I can connect my read aloud? 
  • Is there are new season or holiday coming up? 
  • Is there a new movie coming out that my students will see? 
    All of these examples help students build a deeper connection to the text. When this happens, your read aloud will take on a whole new level of meaning and significance.


This is absolutely the hardest thing about read alouds. With so many distractions, it’s hard enough to complete what you are required to do. BUT, when taking breaks from the novel my students had trouble remembering character traits, themes, etc. because they simply couldn't remember the plot. That completely negates the purpose!

In order to avoid this, BE CONSISTENT. Even if you can only dedicate 5-10 minutes a day—do it! Make the time and try your best not to skip!


Always always always pre-read your novel choices! Imagine reading a new novel and coming to a plot twist, scene, or word for which your class is not prepared. 

In addition, BE PREPARED with what you want your class to discuss. You should always spend a few minutes getting your class thinking and discussing the text. I like to have 2 questions for each section I read (one for before we start and one for after). I keep these on bookmarks and leave them right in the novel! **More on how I do this later!**


It’s no secret that your students look up to you. When they see something you don’t like….suddenly they don’t like it so much. And when they see that read aloud time is your FAVORITE, suddenly it is their favorite too! 

 Do the voices, be silly, and give in to the emotion of the text. Show your students that it’s ok to love reading and get lost in the story. This helps them open up to reading and be more likely to pick up a book on their own time. 

5. JUST BE! 

Just DO the read aloud. You know why it’s important, you know the benefits, and you know your class will love it. Now it’s time to put aside the excuses and make the time. Your class will thank you for it!!

Now What?

How Do I Keep Student Engaged During a Read Aloud?

I typically choose a new read aloud for every month (or as close to it as I can get!). I prepare by creating bookmarks with relevant discussion questions for each section I read. I also make these into journal form for my students. There are over 30 versions available in my TpT store and they have proven very effective! A few examples below:

Thumbnail for read aloud companion for restartThumbnail for read aloud companion for Fish in a Tree by Fifth in the Forest on Teachers Pay TeachersThumbnail for read aloud companion for A Night Divided by Fifth in the Forest on Teachers Pay Teachers

Not sure what novels to choose?

Check out these favorite novel lists for third, fourth, and fifth graders!


Pin Image Title "5 Ways to Make Read Alouds More Meaningful" along with a pile of books at a middle grades level        Pin Image Title "How to Make Read Alouds More Meaningful" along with a pile of books on the upper elementary level

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