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Leading Through Reading: Read Aloud Program Tips: How to Read a Story: Getting Started

A collaborative literacy program





Leading Through Reading is a Read-Aloud Program in partnership between Vanderbilt's The Black Cultural Center, Peabody Library, Black male students and staff of Vanderbilt University, and Metro Nashville Public School, Ida B. Wells.


  • To increase the exposure of Black males and literacy to young people
  • To increase literacy and promote conversation around stories among Black males through mentorship and modeling.

Tips & Strategies

1. Book Selection

  • Read from different genres
  • Choose books for your audience
  • Pre-read the book to find words or illustrations for discussions

2. Prepare the space

  • If your read-aloud is for a group or one-on-one, find a space that suits the need

3. Plan time (15-20 min) and also prompts during the reading of the book

4. Introduce the book

  • Show the book cover and have the viewer guess what the book might be about
  • Read the author and illustrator to understand the concepts and become familiar with names
  • Hold the book wide open and at your side while reading the story 

5. Hold the book wide open

6. Read with expression

  • Dramatic
  • Fun
  • Sound effects
  • Hand motions 
  • Facial expressions

7. Build in space for response

  • Have listeners repeat a line
  • Do hand motions
  • Make sound effects
  • Share what the listener is thinking

8. Develop ways to respond

  • Some questions can be answered right away to understand the story
  • Some questions are answered in the story itself.

9. Encourage guessing what happens next while reading

  • Point out details in illustrations
  • Invite listeners to use their senses and emotions
    • Have listeners pretend to be a character
    • Ask  how the character feels
    • What did the character hear?
    • What did the character smell?

10. Watch the audience and adjust as needed to continue engagement

11. Create time at the end of the story to ask for story responses and reactions


Questions to ask during or after the read-aloud:

  • Use who, what, where, when, why, and how
    • Examples
      • What is the character doing
      • How does the character feel
      • What happened?
      • What are they doing?
      • Why did they respond that way?
      • What do you think will happen next?
      • How would you have written this story?

Finding Read Aloud Books

Group picture of volunteer readers
Volunteer reading to 2nd grade class