Never Too Old for Read-Alouds

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Reading aloud to middle and high school students is a topic of discussion in the library world, hooray!

Even if you are confident reading aloud to any age group, it’s a good idea to gather tips for success with teens in particular.

Candy Blessing (2005) offers advice for conducting a read-aloud program that will motivate struggling teen readers.  Barrett (2000) suggests that reluctant readers will benefit as well.  Some of the ideas span a wide range of audiences, but Blessing focuses on the teen experience.  Her tips are summarized here:

  • Consider starting out “small,” with a poem or short story.
  • Choose a book with specific appeal for your particular group.
  • Read the entire book ahead of time, and make sure you like it yourself.
  • Rehearse!
  • Read aloud to teens “15-20 minutes, once or twice a week.”
  • To help with transitions between activities, schedule reading aloud at the beginning or end of a class or program.
  • Create a relaxing environment with lighting and/or music, and have teens face away from sunlit windows.
  • Explain to teens that they are going to experience a shared reading event.
  • Tell the teens something about the author.
  • Encourage students to pay attention to specific features of the upcoming story.
  • Encourage students to doodle on paper while listening.
  • End each read-aloud session at an “intriguing” point in the story.
  • Follow a read-aloud session with a discussion.
  • Be prepared with recommendations for other titles.


Blessing, C. (2005). Reading to kids who are old enough to shave. School library journal, 51(4), 44-45.

Barrett, V. D. (2000). Are we reading to our teens? Book report, 19(1), 35-38.

2 thoughts on “Never Too Old for Read-Alouds

  1. I’ve observed all ages – including teens – enjoying spoken stories in a weekly evening program for campers at a state park. It seemed like the ages of audience members took a back seat to the shared experience. When my children were camping as teens, they wouldn’t miss the programs for anything, even planning their trip “into town” around the schedule for the story program.


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