Feb 022013

by Esther Jantzen, guest poster

Think-aloud is a simple yet powerful activity you can do while reading a book to a child. It is just stopping occasionally to tell thoughts and feelings about what you read, or to ask about the child’s reactions.

It is good for children to hear adults do this because it shows them that talking about stories helps to understand them, and that it is fun to interact with a book. But don’t stop so often that it destroys the flow of the story!

Here are some ways to do this:

1) When you are reading a story aloud and come to a part that reminds you of an experience, stop and briefly share about it. Make a connection between what happened to you and what happened in the book. 

2) When you are reading a story and come to a part that puzzles you, stop and ask questions like, “I wonder why that character just did that?” or “Wow, I’d better read it again. It doesn’t make sense to me!” or “What do you think that’s about?”

3) When you notice a story reminds you of another book, stop and say something such as, “Oh, this is like another story we read. Here’s another character who wants to have a big adventure! I sure wonder whether he’s going to get caught in a bind somewhere.”

Before you go back to reading aloud, see if your child wants to say something. Listen and encourage your child to talk about what you have read together. When grown-ups share their thoughts and reactions to a story, children learn to do that, too. It is a good way to encourage understanding. 


Esther Jantzen, Ed.D, is a mother, an educator and the author of Plus It! How to Easily Turn Everyday Activities into Learning Adventures for Kids and the Way to Go! Family Learning Journal, both available through www.jantzenbooks.com

  2 Responses to “Think Aloud”

  1. Esther — thanks so much for joining us! I think that specific suggestions like this can be really helpful. I look forward to your next column.

  2. Who doesn’t love stories?!?!? Even as adults, stories have a powerful effect in our lives – not just their specific content but as a learning tool in general. Want an adult to change the way they are doing something? Tell a story. Our brains are weaned on stories and become wired for stories, so it makes sense that it’s a great learning tool for adults as well. The same process applies too – stop and share an experience or interpretation. And the connect-the-dots type of technique sets a child up for a lifetime of successful learning through stories. Thanks, Esther, for a wonderful article.

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