One Idea to Get Kids to Volunteer to Read Aloud More


 I deal with seniors who, for the most part, hate to read.  Many struggle.  We do some reading aloud in class because my intonation helps them to follow and if I can get them interested in the book, they are more likely to try to read on their own when that time comes.

However, I do like for them to take part in the reading aloud.  That is not an easy task.  I usually have at least one person who will volunteer, but I want variety.  

What doesn't work - calling a kid out to read.  The stress level for some of these kids are through the roof as it is.  Adding the random picking of kids will increase that.  You are likely to see your most shy students suddenly need to use the bathroom and mysteriously stay out for an extended period of time.


So, I combat this in two ways.  First, near the beginning of the semester, I tell them that one of my jobs to teach reading comprehension, but to do that, I need to know that my students can, in fact, read.  The only way I know for certain that a student can read is hearing words from a page come out of their mouths.  This is the point where my students who are scared to read show it all over their faces.  Then I say, "But I know that the ability to read well and the ability to read aloud well are two different things."  I go on to poke fun of the things that we all do from time to time when we read aloud - stumble on an easy word - read the same line twice - skip a line - etc.  So I tell them that I need to hear everyone read once and we are all likely to make those mistakes along the way, which is perfectly fine.  I then tell them that all I need is one sentence.  They will read just the first sentence of the paragraph.  That's it.  It's my compromise with them.  I give them a fairly easy story like this prose version of "The Wife of Bath's Tale" and we start to read.  I read the first paragraph and starting with the second paragraph, each student (I go down row by row so that they can get ready) each student reads the first sentence.  I finish the paragraph.  

Why does that work?  Well, even the scared students usually find that one sentence is OK and not too much to ask.  Plus, since everyone is doing it, they feel like they are not being singled out.  That's much more important than you might would think.

What happens if someone refuses to read?  I have only had that happen twice and it was in the same class.  Don't make a fuss about it.  I tell them that they need to see me after class and move on.  When they see me, I want to find out what the issue is.  In my case, it was two students who could speak English just fine, but had never learned to read it.  That was important knowledge for me to have that they would never have volunteered.  

After that, I try to only pick volunteers.  Since they have already read once, it is a little easier to get them to volunteer (and I never ask for a lengthy volunteer read and usually allow them to stop when they are ready to stop).  

So what's the other way to get them to read? Bribery.


Well, with team points.  We play a game in class and teams can earn points.  One way to to volunteer to read aloud in class.  Works pretty well.


If you have any tried and true methods to get students to read, leave them in the comments!