My Favorite Ways to Introduce a Book

Discover five ways to introduce a read aloud in the classroom: Picture Walk, Book Talk/Commercial, Author Profile, Theme/Topic, and Just Start Reading.

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5
This article is excerpted from Unwrapping the Read Aloud.

Picture Walk

Today we are going to read this book [hold the book so the front cover is visible]. It is called Snow Day! The author is Lester Laminack, and the illustrator is Adam Gustavson. Take a look at the illustration on the front. These two kids seem to be zipping down a hill on this red sled. Before we read this one, let's take a walk through the pictures and see what is going on.

Turn to the first illustration and begin a conversation. It may go something like this: Well, I see a boy looking right at us and his eyes are really large. He looks excited. I wonder what he might be excited about? And look at the girl lying there on the floor in front of the TV. Mmmm, that's interesting, the man on the TV is standing in front of a map and that looks like clouds and snowflakes. I wonder what that man is talking about. Oh look, there is one more person in the illustration. See the man over here? He looks like a grown-up and he's wearing an apron and has a spatula in his hand. It looks as if he is coming from the kitchen to see what is going on. Now I'm really wondering what these three are talking about. Let's turn the page and take a look at the next illustration, shall we?

Book Talk/Commercial

Just imagine how excited you'd feel if you heard the TV weatherperson announce the possibility of a big snowfall on a SCHOOL NIGHT! Imagine what you'd be thinking about and how excited you would get. Perhaps you'd be thinking about staying up late to watch TV. Or sleeping in the next morning. Or you might be thinking about your homework and how you could just skip it until the next day. Maybe you'd be thinking about all the fun you could have spending the day playing in the snow-snow forts and snowball fights, sledding and snowmen.. . . Oh, and then you'd need to come inside and get warm. There's bound to be hot chocolate on a snow day-mmmm, I do love a good mug full of hot chocolate. Today we are reading Snow Day! I can hardly wait, let's get right to it and see what happens on this snow day. . . .

Author Profile

Today I have a new book for us. This one is called Snow Day!, and look, it's written by Lester Laminack. We know who that is. He wrote Saturdays and Teacakes. Do you remember seeing and hearing him read that book on the DVD I have? He also wrote a few other books that we have in our room; do you remember which books he wrote? Let's take a look [have the books close by and hold each one up]. He wrote Jake's 100th Day of School and Trevor's Wiggly-Wobbly Tooth. Those stories remind us of the things we do at school. We have talked about that several times. He also wrote The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins; remember how that one always makes me cry because it reminds me of my grandmother?

I checked Lester's Web site and bookmarked the page for you if you'd like to go there for yourself. I discovered that Lester was a teacher in an elementary school and in a university. That helps us understand why he might write about what happens at school in Trevor's Wiggly-Wobbly Tooth and Jake's 100th Day of School. I'm thinking Snow Day! might have a connection to school as well. Let's try to remember to look for that as we read. I also found out that he grew up in a very small Alabama town called Heflin. And I discovered that Saturdays and Teacakes is a memoir about growing up in that small town. I am wondering if there is anything from his life in this new book, Snow Day! Let's think about that when we are listening. Remind me to check the dedication, since authors sometimes share connections for us there. And one more thing I discovered when reading about Lester. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina, and it does snow there in winter. So now I'm wondering if that's where he got the idea for this new book. Let's take a look inside and see what we find.

Theme/Topic Link

Sometimes unexpected things can make us change our plans. Rainstorms can cause us to cancel soccer practice. A flat tire on a bike can make us walk when we planned to ride. Sometimes we expect something in the mail and it takes a week longer to arrive than we thought it would. A delay at the airport can cause us to miss a trip. Unexpected events can make us change our plans, and that is what we are reading about this week. I have a basket of books here, and we will read one each day. These are stories about all kinds of plans that just don't work out because something unexpected happens. Let's take a look at the first one, Snow Day!, written by Lester Laminack, with illustrations by Adam Gustavson. Take a moment before we begin to read; let's think about what unexpected event may make these characters change their plans. What plans do you suppose they had? [At this point I sometimes have students share their thinking with someone near first, then share out.]

Let's settle in and see what goes awry in this story. . . .

Just Start Reading

Well, duh. . . this is pretty clear, huh? All kidding aside, I often just share the title, author, and illustrator, then begin.

 

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  • Subjects:
    Literature, Listening and Speaking, Literature Appreciation, Teacher Tips and Strategies
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