1. Reading aloud

The kinds of stories and story-reading activities that pupils enjoy are likely to vary according to their age and their knowledge of the language in which the stories are written. Younger pupils and pupils who are just beginning to learn an additional language enjoy having a good story read to them several times – particularly if they have opportunities to participate in the reading. By reading a story several times and by encouraging pupils to read parts of the story with you, you are helping them to become familiar with new words and to gain confidence as readers.

The focus of Activity 1 is preparing and teaching a shared reading lesson. The aims of this activity are to increase your confidence and skills as a reader and to get pupils ‘hooked on books’.

Case Study 1: Using childhood experiences of stories to prepare classroom activities

When Jane Dlomo thought about her childhood in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, she remembered how much she had enjoyed her grandmother’s stories. Two things stood out in her memory: firstly, how much she enjoyed hearing the same stories over and over again and secondly, how much she and her brothers and sisters enjoyed joining in with the stories. Sometimes her grandmother asked, ‘What do you think happened next?’ Sometimes she asked the children to perform actions.

Jane decided to make her reading lessons with Grade 4 pupils more like her grandmother’s story performances. She also decided to experiment with activities that would involve pupils in sharing the reading with her and with one another. When she told her colleague Thandi about her decision, Thandi suggested that they work together to find suitable storybooks, practise reading the stories aloud to each other and think of ways of involving the pupils in the reading. Both teachers found that sharing the preparation helped them to be more confident in the classroom (see Resource 1: Preparation for shared reading).

Key Resource: Using storytelling in the classroom [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   gives further ideas.

Activity 1: Sharing the pleasures of a good storybook

Read Resource 1 and follow the steps below.

  • Prepare work on other tasks for some pupils to do while you do shared reading with a group of 15 to 20.
  • Establish any background knowledge about the topic of the story before reading it.
  • As you read, show pupils the illustrations and ask questions about them. Use your voice and actions to hold pupils’ attention.
  • Invite pupils to join in the reading by repeating particular words or sentences that you have written on the chalkboard and by performing actions.
  • At the end, discuss the story with your pupils. (See Resource 2: Questions to use with book readings.)

How did you feel about your reading of the story?

Did pupils enjoy the story? How do you know?

What can you do to develop your story reading skills?

Section 2: Stimulating interest in reading stories

2. Using writing to encourage reading