In this video segment from Between the Lions, Cleo reads one of Aesop's fables, The Lion and the Mouse, illustrating an effective read-aloud ...
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- Pause the story when the lion is caught in the net and calling for help. Ask children if they can predict the outcome, remembering the mouse's promise to help the lion one day. What can the little mouse do to help the big lion?
- Use the moral of the story as a springboard into a discussion about how little creatures might be able to do big things.
- Have children act out the story with finger puppets and a few props. Retelling a story is a good way to demonstrate comprehension and grasp of sequence of events.
- During subsequent viewings and readings, pause to explain new vocabulary words: "appetite," "approaching," "motivation," "scurried" and the expression "return the favor."
Like many of Aesop's fables, The Lion and the Mouse imparts a lesson. In this case, the lesson is about giving and receiving help, even from an unlikely source. This read-aloud illustrates the value of talking about a story as it is being read. Asking questions and sharing responses give children an opportunity to interact with the text and show how much they understand the meaning of the story.
Reading aloud is the single most important thing parents and caregivers can do to prepare children for success in school. From birth to age six, the brain is in a critical period of language development. Hearing language as a story is read aloud helps the brain organize itself to learn language, strengthening the language connections in the brain and making it more receptive to oral and book learning. Research shows that the amount of time children spend being read to in the preschool years strongly predicts their readiness for kindergarten and even their performance at the end of the sixth grade.
In this segment, the read-aloud begins when Cleo reads the title, The Lion and the Mouse. The Lions are eager to hear the story because they know from the title that it features a lion, and Click the Mouse has a personal interest in the story because it also features a mouse. Connecting a story to a common experience engages children in a book—even before the story begins.
When Lionel pauses the story to laugh at the prospect of a mouse helping a lion, and when Leona asks why the lion let the mouse go, they illustrate an important element of an effective read-aloud: interacting with the ideas in the text. Asking questions and sharing reactions may seem like an interruption, but in fact they model the kind of conversations that help children develop language skills and motivate them to learn more. Asking questions and sharing reactions also provide opportunities for children to make predictions.
Cleo's ability to enter the book—going "Between the Covers"—enables her to ask the lion directly why he let the mouse go. Although readers can't literally leap into a book, they can imagine interacting with a character. Connecting with characters—identifying with them, rooting for them, or wishing they would change—is central to a rewarding reading experience. We know that when this connection is in place, a child's comprehension of the story is solid.
Common Core State Standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.R.1 (Grade 1 ): Reading
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.1 (Grade 1 ): Informational Text
(Grade 1 ): Key Ideas and Details
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 (Grade 1 ): Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 (Grade 1 ): Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
- (Grade 1 ): Key Ideas and Details
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.1 (Grade 1 ): Informational Text
Between the Lions: "Little Big Mouse"
This media asset was adapted from the Between the Lions show "Little Big Mouse."