Special Booklists

Reading Aloud With Children Twelve & Older

Is reading aloud to younger children just as effective with those entering the teen and young adult years?

Yes, teenagers participating in the read aloud experience will, like younger children, build background knowledge, increase their vocabulary, make more meaningful connections to thoughts and ideas as well as associate reading with pleasure.

Beyond this, however, the impact of this activity may be even greater and more crucial at this point in a young person’s life. A great read aloud tells a teenager they are not alone in feeling awkward and uncertain. Through the characters’ fictional or real-life emotional journeys young adults learn strategies to handle social situations and conflicts resulting in their own increased self-confidence.

In addition, teens struggling to find the words to express their emotions find rich vocabulary and phrases filling these books and readily at their fingertips..

The books we have listed in Reading Aloud With Children Twelve and Older, whether classics or contemporary, allow adults to match their listening audience with powerful texts focusing on the issues that have historically concerned teens as well as themes particularly relevant today. How do I fit in? How do I stay true to myself when confronted with peer pressures? How will I find my life’s work? How can I create a world free of violence, hunger, want and filled with natural beauty?

We anticipate the books will stimulate conversations about these and other topics particularly meaningful to this age group and that it will provide unique opportunities for teens and adults to engage in a positive nurturing dialogue for sustained periods of time. As a result, and perhaps most importantly of all, the read aloud experience should generate a mountain of wonderful memories that adults and teens can draw on forever.

By Ellen D. Rappaport

Reading Aloud With Children Twelve and Older

  • Selection Considerations
    • The book lends itself to being read out loud. The flow of the language, dialogue and plot are enhanced when read out loud.
    • The text furthers the adult’s ability to understand the perspective of the teenagers being read to and enhances the teenager’s understanding of the adult.
    • The book has the language, plot and imagery to make teenagers value the ideas, issues, concerns expressed in the text and desire to discuss them further.
    • The issues, ideas, concerns explored in this text are relevant to the young person’s life and will facilitate discussions leading to self-awareness and understanding of other points of view.
    • The issues, ideas, concerns explored in the text promote an opportunity for the teen to understand his family’s history as well as the history and direction of families on the national and global scene.
    • The books empower the teen to take action to alter his own situation or those in the larger community, nation or world.
  • Hints for Reading Aloud
    • Select several titles from Reading Aloud With Children Twelve and Over whose descriptions appear to match your intended audience. Does your listener like fantasy, science fiction, books of information?
    • Read several of the books from cover to cover
    • If the book’s language or content makes you uncomfortable choose another title.
    • Offer the teenager an opportunity to choose between at least two titles you have read and are very enthusiastic about.
    • Use post-its to or other page markers to divide the text into read aloud segments. These segments should have natural breaking points that leave the teen at a particularly crucial time in the character and story line.
    • Use post-its to mark dialogue, important transitions and/or sensitive topics that will influence how you read the text. Do you need to be dramatic? Should the text be spoken loudly or softly, quickly or slowly?
    • Let the teenager know that the books may discuss some sensitive issues and have vivid descriptions. Ask the teen how she/he wishes to handle these passages. Some readers develop a code word for these segments and have the listener read these passages on their own.
    • Practice reading out loud so that you feel relaxed when reading to your audience.
    • Create a reading log or journal. Enter the titles and dates of books being read aloud. List the pages read at each session. Prepare a comment section reporting on the response of the teen to the segment as well as to the whole book. This will influence future selections.
    • Remember if the read aloud time isn’t successful you can always stop and try again at a later date and time and/or offer the audio version of the book.
    • Most of all, have fun!