Read-Aloud Rituals: Birthday Bag and More


Birthday Bag

Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook, says that read aloud is like doing a book commercial for kids and conditions them to associate reading with pleasure. Why is this important? Because human beings seek to have pleasurable experiences repeated. There is nothing more exciting to a child than their birthday, so let’s associate birthdays with books!

That’s what this read-aloud ritual is all about. I always kept a birthday gift bag filled with birthday-titled picture books inside.


When is was a child’s birthday, we suspended our normal “choose a book ritual with a birthday read-aloud. The birthday child was invited to select a book from the birthday bag for that day’s morning meeting read-aloud.

​(I found it easy to find birthday books at garage sales and library used-book sales.) After the read-aloud, the book went back into the bag and the bag was put away until another child’s birthday. This became a favorite class ritual and helped us use books to celebrate with each other! Here are some of the titles in my Birthday Bag: 

Chapter Book Birthday Read-Aloud

In her book Reconsidering Read-Aloud Mary Lee Hahn shares another birthday read-aloud ritual. On a child’s birthday the child refers to the read-aloud gallery and is invited to select from one of the previously read books a favorite or memorable excerpt to revisit as a class. She says she underestimated how much her students enjoyed this read-aloud.

Birthday Mystery Reader

Another way to celebrate birthdays and tie it in with read-aloud is to invite a “mystery reader”–usually a family member or friend of the birthday child. The mystery element adds extra excitement!

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