Professional Development

March 4, 2023

5 Things to Consider When Choosing Books for Interactive Read Aloud Lessons

Interactive read aloud lessons are powerful. When you have a quality book and an effective lesson, you can get so much bang for your buck when it comes to teaching. Students are usually captive when you read aloud to them. You can use this time to build and deepen their comprehension skills.

But do you know what to look for when choosing books for your interactive read aloud lessons? Text selection is one of the most important pieces of interactive read aloud lessons. You could just grab a book off the shelf and wing it, but you probably won’t get the most out of your time and lesson. Plus, you may find that the book just wasn’t a good fit for your students.

Today I’ll share five questions I ask myself before choosing books for my read aloud lessons. These questions will give you a guide to follow to help you decide if a book will be a good choice for your students.

Will this book’s storyline or topic be interesting to my students?

First, you’ll want to find a high-quality book that has a plot with enough complexity to spark your students’ interest. We want students to stay engaged with a book and ignite curiosity. Try to find books that your students will be able to connect with or that they have expressed interest in reading. A good place to start finding high-quality books could be award lists.

If it’s a nonfiction book, I like to find books that aren’t so long that my students will lose their attention or are too fact-filled that they can’t comprehend it. I try to look for nonfiction books that read more like a story and have enough information to teach my students something, but not overwhelm them.

Does this book mirror my students and offer windows to them?

I loved for the books in my classroom and the books I choose for interactive read aloud lessons to be both mirrors and windows. I want students to see themselves, their activities and interests, their families, and their friends in books.

Additionally, I also want books to be a window into the lives of other people my students can relate to. It’s good practice to make sure you have a nice variety of characters, settings, and plots in the books you choose.

Does this book help me teach the reading skill or strategy I’m targeting?

We need the book we choose to lend itself to the reading strategies you need to target to give students explicit instruction and authentic practice. If you’re teaching students to visualize, you may want a book that has excellent descriptive words or a unique plot.

If you want students to practice using several different reading strategies and learn how to pull upon them to better understand, you’ll want to make sure the book has a complex enough storyline to be able to do that.

Does this book have rich vocabulary?

One thing we’ve diving into with the science of reading research is the importance of vocabulary. Interactive read aloud lessons are perfect for incorporating authentic vocabulary instruction and practice. With Scarborough’s Reading Rope, you can see exactly where vocabulary helps with language acquisition.

When you choose books with rich vocabulary, you’re helping students develop into strategic readers. I like to make sure there are anywhere between four and eight good vocabulary words for me to discuss with my students. Then, we’ll talk about how and why the author perhaps chose each word and practice using them in sentences.

Is this book on my students’ listening level?

While students don’t need to decode and read this book, we do want them to understand the book. Usually, students’ listening level is higher than their independent reading level, but we still want to choose books they will be able to comprehend and discuss.

While these five questions might be simple questions to ask, they are effective. Taking the time to consider your book choice as an essential part of the lesson planning process will help you have a more effective lesson.

But gosh…it takes so much time to comb through books to see if they will be a good fit. Not to mention the time it takes to plan the actual lessons, find your teaching points, and plan coordinating activities and lessons to continue to support readers.

If you’re looking for some help in creating and planning your interactive read aloud lessons, The Read Aloud Library can help! The Read Aloud Library is an easy-to-use membership designed with busy teachers in mind.

The Read Aloud Library

Each month with your membership, you’ll get 20 days of lessons and activities to support your readers.

With your membership, each month you’ll receive:

  • 6 Interactive Read Aloud Lesson Plans that teach a reading skill or strategy, a sticky note template with teacher prompts ready to go for the book, and a 3-4 day pacing guide for each book
  • Vocabulary cards, student vocabulary activity page, and vocabulary sticky notes with words and definitions for each lesson
  • 12 Student Reading Response Notebook Activities
  • 2 Reading & Writing Crafts that coordinate with 2 of the lessons
  • Easily Accessible Organized Digital Library of Lessons
  • Exclusive Access to a Reading Strategy and Skill Video Library Series to Help Support You

No more wondering if the book you found will work for the reading strategy you wanted. No more flipping through pages of countless books to make sure it’s on your students’ listening level. I’ve done all the work for you! Just hit Print and you’ll be totally set for your read aloud lessons.

Ready to learn more about The Read Aloud Library or sign up?ย Click HERE!ย Iโ€™d love to walk you through everything youโ€™ll get! I canโ€™t wait to save you time and get these effective lessons in your hands.

Happy Teaching,



Want to use the latest research to boost your readers during small groups? Thisย FREEย guide is packed with engaging ideas to help them grow!

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your studentsย loveย and that areย easy to implementย for teachers.ย ย Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, youโ€™ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


Soc St

You may also enjoy...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Which type of professional development interests you?