Read Aloud…. Even to High School Students?

When I started my teaching career, 7 years ago, I ended up teaching 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students. I, of course, was licensed for 1st-6th grade. Teaching these students was a little frightening to say the least. Many of my students didn’t enjoy coming to reading class. To break the ice, each period I usually read them a joke or a funny poem. As time went on, I noticed that my students looked forward to hearing the poem for the day. If I forgot, they were sure to remind me to read one to them before the bell rang. I eventually was running low on poems and thought that maybe the students would love to hear a story. For each class the vote was almost unanimous that they would enjoy hearing a read aloud. I read the story “The Giver,” to all the 7th-9th graders my first year. Wow, I was shocked! They loved the read aloud and many students would often state, “Another chapter Mrs. L. Read another one.”

the giver3

Many other high school teachers felt that I was wasting my students time. They would often state that high schoolers didn’t need to hear things being read to them, they needed to be reading themselves. My goal for completing read alouds was to help the students find pleasure in reading again. When I met with the other high school reading teachers, I noticed that they really didn’t encourage free-reading. The only things the students were reading where stories that were assigned to them with worksheets or some other type of work. The students weren’t reading for excitement or pleasure. They were reading because they had to. Many had lost the fun of reading and I was hoping this would ignite the passion in reading again.

I was inspired to write about this article when I recently read an article written in the School Library Journal by Jess deCourcy Hinds (2015). She describes an experience much like mine. I was surprised to read that when she asked her junior high students how many had been read aloud to as a child, only a quarter of them raised their hand. deCourcy Hinds stated that her students were, “starved for storytelling.” Her article goes on to state other ways that high school teachers have helped students not only find the pleasure in reading again but how read alouds help students with their comprehension, fluency, and listening skills. I would suggest reading this article as it gives many true examples that really proved how read alouds can help high school students find a life-long love of reading.


Jess deCourcy Hinds Article:

If you are a high school reading teacher and want to start this inspiring process for your own students check out YA Love blog:






6 thoughts on “Read Aloud…. Even to High School Students?

  1. One of the best parts about my school day growing up was the read aloud. I always remember my teachers reading in different voices, reading with expression, or pausing to ask questions about the book. However, this stopped in 7th grade. Coincidentally, about the same time I started to not enjoy reading as much as I had in my elementary and early middle school years. Throughout high school, I maybe read four or five books for “fun.” The rest, like you mentioned, were assigned to me and had accompanying worksheets to complete to prove that I was reading them. I will remember my freshman and senior year English teacher (same person), reading aloud to us a few times a week. Usually, it was the assigned book, but the way he would read and add expression to his reading, started ignite the interest to read again. I really wish more teachers, especially in junior high and high school would continue the read aloud. There is so much to learn from a read aloud.

    With my elementary students, I love read aloud time and it gives my students the opportunity to listen to reading done with expression and fluency. Similar to your experience, students often ask for one more chapter or just a few more pages. I have a few go to books that I like to read every year; BFG and Wayside School, and the rest are selected off of the Maud Hart Lovelace Aware list.

    There is truly something special about read alouds, not matter the age of the students. For some, it could be the only time someone has ever read to them. Happy reading!


    • Thank you for the amazing comments! I also remember read aloud time! I had an amazing 7th grade teacher that read aloud to us! He was great at reading in so many different, fluent voices. After 7th grade read alouds didn’t happen and reading for enjoyment was a thing of the past!


  2. Your post brought be back to my years in junior high (middle) school! That was the best, when thing when the teacher read to us and we didn’t have to sit and look at the words. I teach 5th grade and they are starting to get to that age where they could take it or leave it. However, my kiddos really get into the little kid picture books. They would all gather on the my carpet and listen carefully–it was even better when they would use a skill without even realizing it! It was so fun to see them excited about reading!


    • Agreed! I also teach fifth and my students really enjoy the read aloud time! I read a book called The Hidden written by Margret Haddix and they enjoy that story so much! What other read alouds do you do?


  3. It made me sad to read that the majority of the junior high school students in the article you wrote about had not been read aloud to as children. As you noted, reading aloud helps with comprehension, listening skills, and fluency, and it also creates interest and excitement in reading. I read aloud to my own kids almost every night, and if we had a late night activity and don’t have time I get a lot of moaning and groaning from them. We read the Wayside books together – they loved those! Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books are great fun to read as well!

    Being a sub I don’t have the opportunity to choose long books to read aloud, but every classroom I have been in this year does have read aloud time and the students make sure I know about it! When I read a part of a chapter book to them I have them give me a summary of what has happened so far, which helps them with comprehension and helps me when I start reading in the middle of a book. I have a bag of books that I bring with me whenever I sub, and I have found that even the older groups (3-4-5) like to be read younger children’s books if they are interesting and have great illustrations. One very, very simple book I have used is a Crayola book called “This is the sun… or is it?” It starts with the sun, the sun turns into a flower, then a lion, then a dandy-lion. It goes on with other simple pictures after that. Then we do a quick game where I start with a shape and students take turns adding something to it to change the picture. Its a very simple book and activity, but something fun and shows students that books for little ones can get creative juices going as well.


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