Instructions for Workshop Leaders 

By Carol Seefeldt Ph.D

1 > Goals

  • To focus on developing children's sense of emotional security through read alouds.
  • To develop techniques for increasing children's vocabularies through read alouds.

2 > In Advance

  • Get a flip chart and marker.
  • Ask each teacher to bring at least one favorite children's book. This could be a book the teacher loved as a child or one the children love.

3 > Begin the Workshop

Begin by asking teachers to share their favorite books. Ask them to show the book, give the title and author, and tell why and how they, or the children they teach, fell in love with the book.

List teachers' responses on the flip chart, and referring to the handout, discuss the feelings of closeness, emotional security, and pleasure felt when someone read to them or when they read to children.

Point out the power of repeatedly reading the same book. The familiarity with the sounds and patterns of language build children's feelings of security and sense of mastery over themselves and the way they use language.

Ask teachers if they do anything special to make book reading engaging and fun for children. One teacher used a "Mystery Bag." In one bag she placed a packet of carrot seeds to introduce Ruth Krauss's The Carrot Seed.

4 > Continue the Workshop

Group teachers according to the age level of the book they selected. Have each group select a recorder and ask the groups to complete the following task.

Each teacher is to read through his book and thoughtfully and carefully identify four words he thinks would be new to the children. As teachers present the identified words to the small group, the group brainstorms ways of making them meaningful to children. When the small groups have finished, each recorder reports the ideas to the large group.

Then ask teachers to practice the Define, Point, Use, and Demonstrate techniques for introducing vocabulary (Wasik & Bond, 2000).

Defining Words. Define a word by rephrasing it. One teacher selected the word exert from Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit. As she read exert, she rephrased it saying, "exert yourself, try very hard."

Using the Word in Context. To a child trying to zipper a coat, a teacher said, "Exert yourself. Here, I'll help."

Pointing to Artwork. As another teacher read the word huddled in Mira Ginsburg's Mushroom in the Rain, she pointed to the illustration of the animals crowding under a mushroom.

Demonstrating. A teacher reading Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are gnashed her teeth, rolled her eyes and roared as she read, "We hear them roar their terrible roars, and we see them gnash their terrible teeth."

5 > Summarize and Make Plans

Refer to the part of the handout in which the child demonstrated her love of the book Miss Rumphius. Ask teachers to observe children during the coming week and record instances of how they express their love of books and use new vocabulary.

Make plans to connect home and school through book reading. Ask teachers to:

  • Set up a lending library for families.
  • Prepare a list of children's favorite books to give to families along with suggestions for reading aloud.
  • Go to the local library and obtain the forms necessary for children and families to obtain a library card. Send the form, along with any other free information about book reading to children and to families.

About the Author
Carol Seefeldt, Ph.D., professor emeritus of the University of Maryland, College Park, and visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University, has worked in early childhood education for more than 30 years.