Finding Time For Novels and Read Alouds

by | Jul 23, 2019 | Teaching Strategies | 0 comments

Welcome to the third installment of my series on using novels in the classroom. 

Today, I am discussing how to find the time to read novels and read alouds. 

Want to watch all the videos now? You can! Click here to see the whole series. 

Let’s get to it! 

Transcription of Video

Hi, it’s Amy Mezni from Teaching Ideas 4U and I’m back with you today for a very quick video on how you can find time in your classroom to use novels and read-alouds.

I know that time is a crunch for teachers just in general. There’s never enough time to cover everything we need to cover. The past two days I’ve covered using novels in your classroom and how you can find good choices to use for your classroom.

So today is a quick chat about how to find time to actually use those books. Let’s talk about finding time.

Again, it’s going to be a real quick day today, but I think it’s important to kind of think about where you can maybe massage a few extra minutes for a book, or where could you use a novel to help you support your standards and engage kids who might not otherwise be interested in your topic.

How To Find A Book That Interests All Students

Because we all know that there are kids who say, “I’m just not a math kid”, or “I just don’t like science”, or “Social studies is so boring”. That’s my favorite. Or the famous, “I don’t know what this has to do with me”, or “Why do I need to know this? I’m not going to be a history teacher”.

Sometimes by using a novel, you can kind of get past that because they love the story and they can see how the topic was integrated and then you get past those questions that I think grate on teachers’ nerves a lot.

So what are some good times that you could use to read novels? Especially read-alouds. I think reading a whole book takes a lot of planning and it has to be very intentional, especially if you’re not teaching language arts. It can be done, but you do have to really think about how you’re going to hit your standards and block that time out.

With read-alouds: You can find a lot of five minutes here and there where you can kind of work that time in. I thought about when I’ve done it and I’ve talked with my friends and when they’ve done it.

Let’s give you a couple of ideas. First, during class. You just make time for it. You just make it reading time. Maybe you need to transition from lesson practice to something else and you take five or 10 minutes to read a book.

Second, at the very beginning of the day. One of my rock star teacher friends who can teach like any grade level and is always good at whatever she teaches, she said she used to like to read her novels first thing in the morning, take attendance, get the lunch count, everything else. Start with your novel. She said it was a great way to kind of calm everybody down.

Then if kids are coming in late, because we always have kids who come in late, they miss it a little bit of the reading, but they didn’t necessarily miss some major assignment that you were trying to go over. But she said it did a great job of just setting the tone for the day and settling the class.

In social studies when I taught middle school social studies, one thing that I did sometimes if I wanted to use a book, I would get the audiobook and I will tell you not all audiobooks are created equal.

Using Audio Books/The Best Time To Read

Okay. Some audio readers are amazing and others are so boring that you can’t even listen to it. My son tends to read audiobooks more. Harry Potter is amazing! Lord of The Flies was so dry I couldn’t even stay focused on it.

So if you find an audiobook and you test it out and the reader is great, you can take your attendance, pass out your papers, collect your papers, whatever you’re doing while the audiobook is reading for those first few minutes.

And for me, because I lose my voice a lot and actually helped me save my voice. And also kids like to hear somebody else too, they do kind of get tired of us droning on. We were on block schedule and it was a nice break for them to hear somebody other than me.

So that’s just a tip. You know, you can put that audiobook on and the kids actually really enjoy it and it gives you time to circulate or do whatever you need to do.

So just a tip, Third, after recess. a great time, if you teach elementary, is after recess. They’re sweaty, they’re hot. Every kid wants to go get a drink or go to the bathroom because they didn’t do it at recess. You sit down, you read for 10 minutes, they can go one by one to the bathroom or however you do it.

And then by the time everybody’s done going to the bathroom, you’ve got your reading. And, and again, it’s kind of like when you did it at the beginning of the day, it just gets everybody back in, settles everybody back down, lets you have all those interruptions without really getting irritated that everybody’s interrupting you.

Fourth, as a transition between subjects. Another time to do it, especially if you teach all your subjects is to use it as a transition from one subject to another. It can be a pretty jarring transition for kids to just like, “Okay, we’re done with reading, now we’re doing math”.

If you have a time where you can take five or ten minutes, it can help just shut your brain down for one subject and then you’re ready to go to the next one because you’ve had a little downtime.

Fifth, dead spots in upper elementary. Another great time, and this is when I tended to put my read-alouds, were dead spots in upper elementary. We had like wacky dead spot sometimes. We’d go to an activity and come back and like five minutes later you had lunch. That’s not enough time to do anything.

So I would just read, you know, or if you come in from recess but you have like 10 minutes before you go to lunch or activity. Just think about all those weird times where it’s not really enough time to do much else but it’s too much time to do nothing. Those are good places to work in a few minutes of your read aloud.

Sixth: End of the day. Another time I like to use for reading, and I don’t think people often think about, is the end of the day. I like it for the very same reason as my friend reads at the beginning of the day; it gets so crazy at the end of the day and sometimes the kids kind of get nuts. I like reading at the end of a period or at the end of the day because it calms them down and they’re not just hopping all over the place or trying to. You know middle schoolers like run out the door before the bell rings.

The Best Time To Read Continued

So it’s a good way to kind of wind things up too. You know what I would do in upper elementary at the end of the day was I would call one table group at a time to pack up and then have them join me on the floor and I would just be reading.

And then when one table group was done packing up, I let the next ones go. You have to leave enough time, 10 to 15 minutes, but you could pack up and get everybody done. The kids could be filling out their planners while the other ones are getting their book bags.

But it also prevents like the great rush of everybody to go get their stuff to go home. Try and look at your schedule this year and think to yourself, where could I fit 10 minutes of reading time?

If you get too much past ten sometimes it takes too much out of your day, especially if you’re a subject area teacher where you only have a 40 minute period. But in upper elementary I would say you’re looking for a good 10 minutes.

Middle school, a good 10 minutes can work. Maybe if you’re an elementary teacher that teaches every subject, 15 minutes can be nice cause then you can get farther in the book. But I would look for places where you can grab a couple minutes.

You might have a dead spot where you can add a few minutes, but maybe you spend 10 minutes at the beginning of the class reading. Your read aloud doesn’t have to be done all at once. You can chunk it between two different parts of your day, so get creative.

But putting that time in there, it really helps kids relax a little bit, take their mind off some things. And it’s also a great time to work in bathroom times when everybody and their brother goes to the bathroom.

So I hope this helped you.

I know it’s kind of quick and fast, but I wanted to give you some thoughts because I know this is one of the hardest things as far as working in a book. It’s just finding the time to do it.

Now tomorrow I’m going to talk about if you want to use novel sets or book groups, how can you find money to buy the books rather than you having to buy all the books?

If you haven’t seen the first two sessions of these lives, you can go back and you can look at why you should use novels. The other one I did was about how to pick a good novel.

Go ahead and look at those. I do have them posted.

I hope this helped you and I hope that you’ll be back tomorrow for funding.

My name again is Amy Mezni from Teaching Ideas 4 U. And you can connect with me on Facebook, on Instagram, Youtube, my TPT store, or my own website, which is just

Thanks for joining me and I hope to see you again.

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Finding Time For Novels In Your Classroom