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Children's and Young Adult Literature: Nevada Reading Week

This guide is a starting place for exploring children's and young adult literature

Nevada Reading Week

Nevada Reading Week is a celebration of reading. One tradition of this event is encouraging adults to conduct read alouds for children. Look for opportunities to volunteer at your child's school or through UNLV.

TDRL Tips for Read Alouds

Here are some suggestions from the TDRL staff to get you started with volunteering for Nevada Reading Week!

Expand your definition of what makes a book "entertaining"?

An "entertaining" book can resonate with kids on a variety of levels. Some questions to think about:

  • Is it super silly and funny? This is a solid place to start when you're new to read alouds.
  • Is there the potential for this book to help students learn something new and interesting? (Think about developmental levels of the age group. What are kids this age generally interested in?)
  • Is there a general life experience in the book that the kids can relate to? For elementary school, this could include making friends, being brave, solving problems at school, exploring hobbies, etc.
  • Is the book touching or heartwarming for the age group? Think about this from a kid's perspective, not an adult's. 

Expand past the "classics."
There are a lot of tried and true read aloud books out there, but there's a good chance that the kiddos you are reading to have already heard a lot of them. If you can, think about what you like about a certain classic and look for similar reads. Not sure where to start? Look up a picture book favorite in NoveList Plus and scan the Read-alikes column for similar books. 

Determine Your Goal
What is it that you hope the kids will get out of your read aloud time? Your main goals should always be to help kids build trust in reading and for them to see the joy that reading can bring, but this "joy" can be more than laughing at a silly story.

  •  Is there a specific topic that you want to share with them like courage, bullying, self acceptance, making friends, family culture, etc? Start with a silly fun book to get the kids invested in you as a story teller and then introduce the theme in a second book keeping in mind that both books should be entertaining.
  • Do you want a lot of participation from the kids? Look for books with interactive qualities like narrators that speak to the reader or ones that ask silly questions.
  • Do you want to provide the kids with a moment of calm in their busy day? Look for peaceful books that allow space for students to be reflective during the reading.
  • And so many more options!

Bring Multiple Books
Give yourself options. You may practice with reading one book in the allotted time, but it's not uncommon to read a book to kids faster than what you practiced at home. Always bring a couple of backups. Giving the kids options on what book will be read is always a great way to get them invested from the start; just don't give too many options (three is a good place to start).

Family Favorites
Do you have any family favorites? Share them! It's less intimidating to share a book you've repeatedly read out loud to the kiddos in your own life. Always make sure to introduce the book as a family favorite and then share at the end why it was a favorite with your family. 

Are you multilingual? If so, think about using a bilingual picture book. There are books out there that are written in both English and another language, so if you can read both out loud, go for it! This is a great way to expose English speaking students to new languages while also connecting other students' to their home languages. 

Interruptions can be fun
Whether you're stopping the story to add your own commentary ("oh dear, I have a bad feeling about what ___ is doing. This seems like a really silly idea...) or responding to comments from the kiddos (What? You think something good is going to happen? Let's find out), interruptions can be a fun way to engage with the text. Just make sure to keep them short and not drift too far from the story. After the book is done, you can have a longer conversation with the kiddos. 

Always read the books you are bringing to class in advance and practice reading them. If there are words or names that are new to you, google how to pronounce them and practice them. Make sure you are feeling confident in your ability to read a text out loud. It's ok if you mess up during the reading (mistakes happen to everyone!), but practicing will help you feel ready. 

Have Fun!
That's really what this is about. Stay flexible and respond to the kiddos in front of you even if it means throwing out everything that you planned. Make this a positive experience!

Not sure what the recommended grade level is for a specific book?
NoveList Plus is a great place to find information including grade levels, reviews, awards, and read-a-likes! Just search for the book by title. 

Read Aloud Suggestions

Not every picture book will work for every read aloud/reader. Before picking books, read a sampling of them and find the ones that work for your read aloud goal and you as an individual! It's important that you really like the book you're going to share. 

Not every picture book will work for every read aloud/reader. Before picking books, read a sampling of them and find the ones that work for your read aloud goal and you as an individual! It's important that you really like the book you're going to share. 

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