10 Ways to Spark Excitement When Introducing Read Alouds

10 Ways to Spark Excitement for Read Alouds

Reading aloud to children will always be near and dear to my heart. Even though I am an instructional technology integrator, I still love finding ways to work read alouds into lessons. If you have been following me for awhile then you know about my growing list of technology themed children's books that I LOVE to integrate into various lessons. I've even written a blog post about using these technology themed children's books to help teach digital citizenship.

Pumping students up for a read aloud is one of my favorite things to do to help build excitement and anticipation for the story whether it is a picture book or starting a chapter book. I have found that the ideas mentioned below help focus students on uncovering the message or purpose for the read aloud. They become more motivated to listen to the story. Let's take a look at some FUN ways we can spark excitement when introducing read alouds.

Wrap-Up The Book & Add a Message

Build excitement and curiosity by wrapping up the book you are going to read and write a message on the front. This could be a friendly message, question prompt, warning, you name it! Recently I did a lesson in kindergarten using the book The Collaborative Raccoon (affiliate link). The purpose of the lesson was to teach students what it means to collaborate both face to face as well as digitally. That's a BIG word for kindergarteners but they are very capable of understanding it and welcoming it into their lexicon with enough practice. I wrapped the book up using a brown paper bag and wrote the following warning message on the front:
Needless to say, they were VERY intrigued and excited to see what was inside. By the end of the lesson they understood that their new BIG word, collaborate (as well as collaborative), means to work together. They even started using it in their conversations!

Dress Up as the Main Character

That's right. Dress up as the main character of the book you are going to read aloud and casually walk into the room or pick students up from lunch/resource class while holding the book. This really makes the story come alive😉I REALLY wish I had a picture of the day I dressed up as Fancy Nancy to share with you. I have scoured all of my folders but can't locate that one. That may have been one of my favorite memories as a classroom teacher. 

Have Students Dress Up/Get Festive

If dressing up isn't your cup of tea then get students to dress up! For instance, tell students to come to school wearing all one color but don't tell them why until you pull out the book, The Day the Crayons Quit. Or in the example below I told my 3rd graders they were going to be detectives and had to solve the case when we read The Mystery of the Stolen StatueThey decorated a paper detective hat and magnifying glass to wear. This really helps set the stage for your new read aloud!

Bring in a Prop That Relates to the Story

Another way to spark excitement for your read alouds is to bring in props that relate to the story you are going to read and display the book nearby. For instance, my neighbor had this fold up teepee she let me borrow. I set it up at the front of the classroom with the book, The Very First Americans, propped up on the side. This was to help kick off our Native American unit. When students walked in they were confused yet very curious as to why I had brought in a teepee. Then they saw the book cover and made the connection.

Create a "HOT READ" Area

Years ago I traveled to New Zealand and attended the International Reading Association Conference. I had the privilege to attend one of Dr. Steven Layne's sessions that was absolutely incredible and I ended up buying his book, Igniting a Passion for Reading (affiliate link), which is in my top 5 favorite professional reads.

In this book Dr. Layne suggests having a "hot read" display in your classroom or library to stir excitement for when kids enter the room and see the hot read for the day. He mentioned how some teachers have gone as far as bringing in a charcoal grill to display their hot reads on. Looks like this:
Being the thrifty teacher I was, I simply cut out a sun from yellow construction paper, suspended it from the ceiling and put my hot reads underneath:

Picture from my 2nd grade classroom. The middle of the sun says: Miss Goode's Hot Read
I can honestly say that my students were just as excited by the end of the year as they were in the beginning of the year to discover our hot read each day. They couldn't wait to hear the story and why it was selected as the "special read".

Hide the Book with a Timer that Rings

This one is one of my favorites but you really have to be on your time management game. I have been known to hide read aloud books in a child's desk or book bag, the teacher's desk, the treasure box, or just somewhere really random and set a digital timer  (affiliate link). When the timer rings the kids go NUTS trying to figure out where it is coming from. Usually within a minute or two it is discovered along with the message: It's TIME for our read aloud! 

Place the Book in a RANDOM Area of the Room for Students to Notice

You really have to get creative with this one! Before students enter your room, place the book in a VERY RANDOM location. Some examples include:
  • taped to the ceiling (I like to do this one for ones that relate to space😉)
  • suspended from the ceiling using fishing wire (looks like it is floating in the air at first glance)
  • prop it on the seat of the teacher's chair/stool

Dramatic Drop Off

Arrange for an administrator, custodian or any special guest to dramatically enter your room and announce that they have THE BEST BOOK EVVVVVER that they are going to leave for the class to read. This can take all of 10 seconds but it sure does build the excitement when books are introduced by someone else who happens to be very passionate about the story.

Animated Gif

Make an animated gif of yourself (or get a "special guest") doing something silly or dancing with the book you are going to read. If you project a morning message using Google Slides or PowerPoint, add your gif to the slide. These work in Google Docs too!

I was able to make the gif above in less than a minute! All you need to do is go to the free website, AndthenIwaslike, click I Want to Make a Gif and then press record. You will see there are options to save to social media, grab a link or get an embed code. If you want to save the gif to your desktop all you need to do it right click (or two finger tap depending on what device you are using) on your gif and save it to your desired location. Students will LOVE seeing you in action.

Here is a recording of a Facebook Live I did to show the steps to create and insert a gif into a presentation:

Have the Book Leave Video Message 

Use an app like ChatterPixAnimate Anything or Photospeak to bring your read aloud "to life" and create a video message for students. You could post the video in Google Classroom, Seesaw or your LMS. Or you could just simply project it on the board for students to enjoy!

So there are 10 ways we can spark excitement when introducing read alouds. What ideas do YOU have? I would love to read them in the comments below!

10 Ways to Spark Excitement for Read Alouds

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