Read Aloud Routine Boosts Children’s Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary

Project ELITE director Leticia Grimaldo using the Read Aloud Routine with her own son.

Project ELITE director Leticia Grimaldo using the Read Aloud Routine with her own son.

Proven, research-based techniques for increasing children’s reading comprehension and vocabulary are now available to parents in an easy-to-use oversized downloadable PDF or a laminated card that parents can request from the Meadows Center.

Dr. Leticia Romero Grimaldo, who created the Read Aloud Routine resource for parents, used reading strategies developed by top reading specialists, including Meadows Center executive director Sharon Vaughn, and that have been tested extensively in classrooms.

Grimaldo condensed the information to make an eight-item list of easy-to-follow guidelines that mirror the more in-depth approach used by teachers.

“This resource is an outgrowth of a model demonstration project called Project Elite, which is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education,” said Grimaldo. “Project Elite’s goal is to help Del Valle ISD develop a comprehensive response to intervention (RTI) model for language and literacy that supports students from kindergarten through third grade and optimizes academic gains for English language learners (ELLs). “

"Parents want to know how to read to their children, and this is perfect to use. Students are told, step by step, what to do and exactly how to do it. Sure, you can say, 'Read a book every night.' But how should you read? This routine takes it to the next level." - Deb McKinney, Baty Elementary teacher, Del Valle ISD, commenting on the Read Aloud Routine for parents."

In the past year, Grimaldo and her team have worked with Baty Elementary and will be expanding to Creedmoor Elementary and Gilbert Elementary.

“Del Valle ISD has a large ELL student population, so they were very excited about participating in this project,” said Grimaldo. “We’re working in the context of the school to build the model - gathering data and constantly receiving feedback from the teachers and school administration – so it’s been a very organic process.”

Although the project was designed to boost English language learners’ achievement, Grimaldo stresses that the Read Aloud Routine increases vocabulary and comprehension for all students and across all content areas, not only in language arts classes.

For parents who are interested in using the Read Aloud Routine, the steps include:

  • finding a book that the child is likely to have a natural interest in and that’s culturally relevant
  • picking three or four vocabulary words that the child may not know and that the parent pre-teaches in child-friendly language before starting the book
  • have an agreed-upon signal that the child will use when one of the vocabulary words comes up in the text
  • before starting the book, asking the child guiding questions that relate to the story and giving the child a purpose as he or she reads
  • helping the child become a “word catcher” who looks for the special vocabulary words as the book’s being read and is able to offer his or her own definitions of the words
  • encouraging the child make connections from the book to his or her own life

“When you’re picking the vocabulary words, you want to choose words that will give you the most ‘bang for your buck’,” said Grimaldo. “Most people gravitate to nouns, but you may find there’s much more potential in adjectives and verbs. You’ll want to select words that the child will have an opportunity to naturally and frequently use in everyday life, not words that are overly specific to that particular book.”

“Also, since some read aloud books tend to be long, you can ‘chunk’ the text into a more digestible size of 200-250 words in a sitting and simply apply the Read Aloud Routine to each chunk. The goal is to help the child get engaged with a story that’s about something they like or are already interested in and to associate reading with fun and learning success.”

The Meadows Center, which is a formal research unit in the College of Education, aims to generate and implement research-based strategies that boost academic, behavioral and social success for all learners. In addition to the nationally acclaimed Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts, the Meadows Center includes the:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute
  • Dropout Prevention Institute
  • Language for Learning Institute
  • Mathematics Institute for Learning Disabilities and Difficulties
  • Middle School Matters Institute
  • Reading Institute
  • Response to Intervention Institute
Last updated on July 17, 2013