Read-Aloud Rituals: Build Your Reading Community and a Sense of Safety


As I write this blog post, I am on a 10-hour drive back home to Michigan. We just moved my daughter to New York City…up to the fifth floor of her apartment building (no elevators)…for the second time in 3 years. It was much easier 3 years ago! Good thing we brought her 6’3” brother for muscles this time!

While helping her unpack, I snapped this quick photo:

Meet Debbie. Lauryn turns 27 this week. Debbie is 26 ¾. Yep, you guessed it. This little security blanket has been with her for all but 3 months of her life. My daughter is a fiercely independent and adventurous little lady. And yet…and yet she spent some of her last moments at home last week carefully hand washing and redressing Debbie (in clothes custom-made by her Googie).

Why? All sorts of reasons, I think. Like familiarity, nostalgia, security, sense of safety.

This brings me to the point of this blog post–your students.

I don’t know your students, but I know this about them: They crave a sense of safety, security, and belonging. They need this every year, but it’s more important now than ever as we continue to navigate our “new normal”.

The Power of Rituals

One really effective way to do this is to create daily or weekly rituals. [Check out this article on The Value of Classroom Rituals and Routines ].

Years ago after reading Mary Lee Hahn’s Reconsidering Read-Aloud, I began being super intentional about creating read-aloud rituals. Honestly, I think it was the very best thing I ever did as a reading teacher!

If you don’t incorporate rituals already, I want to encourage you to start. I promise that they will dramatically change your classroom culture. It’s so simple but so impactful.

Not sure where to start? Here is a quick video of my all-time favorite read-aloud ritual.

I have loads more reading rituals–some from my classroom and some that I have collected from teachers around the country. To read about more of them, here is a roundup of all of my reading ritual blogposts.

I hope this list gets you started–use my ideas or better yet, create your own!

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