Not all teachers read to their middle school students. But reading aloud to kids may be very beneficial, even in classes like math and science.
Some middle schoolers like to read but don’t make time for it. In contrast, others don’t like it and, even more, don’t think they’ll ever tolerate it. Reading aloud in school is one way that can help kids discover a love for reading. But which teachers are reading aloud, and why do they choose to read aloud?
In their article, “A Survey of Teachers’ Read-Aloud Practices in Middle Schools,” researchers Mary Ariail and Lettie K. Albright explore options for how to improve the reading skills and habits of middle school–aged children. Ariail and Albright say that reading to middle schoolers has not been as well researched as reading to younger children. Despite the limited research, the few studies performed have shown that reading to middle schoolers has major benefits.
The authors took advantage of a conference to survey a thousand teachers who taught grades 5–8, asking for their basic demographic information and experience, or lack thereof, with reading aloud to their students. The researchers examined the specific practices of teachers who do read to their middle schoolers. They found vast benefits to the practice of reading aloud to middle school children, including fostering higher-level thinking skills and making meaning within a group setting.
After tallying the survey results in a statistical analysis software program, the researchers found that more than 72% of respondents read aloud to their students. Additionally, female educators were more likely than male educators to read aloud to their students, and English and language arts teachers read aloud more often than teachers of other subjects like math and science. The study also showed the reasoning behind teachers’ decisions to read aloud to students. The most common explanations were (1) to promote a love for reading and (2) to build up student comprehension. Overall, the researchers found that teachers perceive that kids simply enjoy listening to teachers read aloud more than they enjoy reading to themselves.
A major finding in this study is that subject matter matters. Since the researchers discovered that teachers of English and language arts tend to read aloud to their students more than teachers of other subjects like math and science, it’s possible that teachers of the latter subjects could benefit from greater training and awareness about the advantages of reading to their students.
For example, even though math and science teachers may not have the same motivations that an English teacher has to promote a love of reading in students, math and science teachers would have motivations to foster students’ comprehension of the material. To add, research shows that “reading aloud has been shown to increase accessibility to texts for students who are unable to read the text for themselves” (Ariail and Albright 2005, 69), so the benefits could be widespread for many different groups of students studying many different subjects.
Generally, the study emphasizes the perceived benefits of reading aloud to children and nails down the demographics and practices of teachers who read aloud to their students and teachers who don’t. In this sense, the study helps readers understand which types of teachers could use more support in making reading aloud a consistent practice. This knowledge could encourage writers to design materials to be read aloud by math and science teachers. In the same vein, publishers could be aware of which texts may benefit from a read-aloud design in order to encourage the practice.
To discover more about reading to middle schoolers, read the full article:
Ariail, Mary, and Lettie K. Albright. 2005. “A survey of teachers’ read-aloud practices in middle schools.” Literacy Research and Instruction 45, no. 2: 69–89. https://doi.org/10.1080/19388070609558443.
—Kate Davis, Editing Research
FEATURE IMAGE BY YAN KRUKOV
Find more research
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Take a look at Sylvia Pantaleo’s (2002) article to learn more about what kinds of children’s books are being taught in certain classes: “Children’s Literature across the Curriculum: An Ontario Survey.” Canadian Journal of Education / Revue canadienne de l’éducation 27, no. 2/3: 211–230. https://doi.org/10.2307/1602221.
Read Haley Roper’s Editing Research article to better understand how reading your work aloud can help your writing and editing: “Oral Proofreading: How Editors and Writers Benefit from Reading Aloud.”