Stories Brought to Life

Leading an interactive read-along


Participating in interactive read-alouds can boost students' comprehension skills and language development far more than just passively listening to a story read by the teacher. Providing interactive read-alouds for your students isn't difficult, it just requires some prior planning. Use these suggestions to make your next read-aloud an exciting, skill-building adventure!

Bringing the Story to Life: Take a close look at the story you are planning to use for your interactive read-aloud. Condsider each each of the following areas as you prepare your reading. Look for ways to include students as well as ways to improve your own reading.

  • Voice Tones Make a list of each character who speaks in the book.  Develop a voice for each one that reflects the qualities of that character that you want to convey. You can even use this technique for non-dialogue portions of the story. For example, every time the story talks about the bear, use the bear voice.
  • Gesture Gesture is a non-verbal expression of meaning. Perhaps certain characters have physical mannerisms that you can incorporate into your telling of the story. Ask students to mimic the gestures you make during the story. This is especially effective if they are repetitious.
  • Sound Effects This is likely to be the most fun for your students. Look for places in the story where you can ask students to help you with sound effects. Weather, animals, and vehicle noises are a great place to start, but look for other sounds hiding in the narrative like footsteps and sounds made by evryday use of objects.
  • Movement Students spend a lot of time sitting still, especially during read-alouds. Finding ways that they can move during stories can increase their level of concentration. Some ideas include: swaying arms for wind or movement of trees, imitating an action from the story using modified movement, and using movement to help a character do something in the story.
  • Rhythms Finding rhythms in some stories can be difficult, but it is worth the search. Walking and running make good rhythms, but look for ways to build new rhythms into stories, too. Animal noises and other sounds like vehicles can be made to a rhythm of your choosing.

Building Comprehension and Language Development: Getting your students involved in telling the story is not only more fun, it also increases students' interest levels, allowing you to incorporate skill-building components with greater success. Here are some teachniques to try:

  • Vocabulary As you plan your reading, locate vocabulary words that are critical for students' undertanding of the story. Define those words as you read the story in class.
  • Re-telling the story Ask students to re-tell the story after you read it and even the next day. You can also have students work in groups to dramatize the story and present it to the class.
  • More than one reading Consider reading the story more than once. Wait a day or two between readings and ask different questions each time you read it.
  • Asking questions Choose the questions that you will ask students both during and after the reading carefully. Comprehension questions are important, but try to include questions that require students to make assumptions and inferences. Be sure to word your questions so that answers are longer than one or two words.
  • Moving beyond reading Think about ways to move the story into other lessons. Is there a science, math, or social studies component that you could incorporate into your lessons? You might also choose to provide play objects related to the story for students to use.

Planning interactive read-alouds takes time, but the rewards are great for both teacher and student. Have fun planning your next interactive read-aloud!



Amy Heathcott

Kennedy Center arts education resources have a new home!

© 1996-2019 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts  

ArtsEdge is an education program of

The Kennedy Center 

with the support of

The US Department of Education 

ARTSEDGE, part of the Rubenstein Arts Access Program, is generously funded by David Rubenstein.

Additional support is provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

Kennedy Center education and related artistic programming is made possible through the generosity of the National Committee
for the Performing Arts and the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts.

The contents of this Web site were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. However, those contents do not
necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal government.
Unless otherwise stated, ArtsEdge materials may be copied, modified and otherwise utilized for non-commercial educational purposes
provided that ArtsEdge and any authors listed in the materials are credited and provided that you permit others to use them in the same manner.

Change Background:

Connect with us!    EMAIL US | YouTube | Facebook | iTunes | MORE!

© 1996-2019 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts  
    Privacy Policy
| Terms and Conditions


You are now leaving the ArtsEdge website. Thank you for visiting!

If you are not automatically transferred, please click the link below:

ArtsEdge and The Kennedy Center are in no way responsible for the content of the destination site, its ongoing availability, links to other site or the legality or accuracy of information on the site or its resources.