Exciting Your Mind

Expanding Fluency

Jamie Ann Mathis



Children communicate feelings, thoughts, and concerns through different methods of expression. When they feel or think something, they primarily express their joy, grief, and sorrow through speech. It is important to teach children to read with these same expressions. This develops the child’s fluency in reading. Teaching a child to read in this expressive manner involves changing the speed, inflection, volume and pitch of your voice. When children learn to read in this manner, it greatly increases the child’s comprehension of the material as well as making reading more entertaining experience. In this lesson the children will listen to me read an example of a “dry read” as well as an “expressive read” and then tell me which they enjoyed more and why.






  1. Explain to children that today we are going to learn something very exciting. “We are going to learn how to bring books to life!!!”This is said with great excitement and anticipation in order to attract the interest of the children. Excitement creates excitement!
  2. Ask the class: “When was the last time reading a book was fun?” (Field answers)
  3. Ask the class: “What would you say if I told you I could make every book you ever read again fun?” ( Again filed a few answers)
  4. Explain that, “Today I am going to teach you how to make a book come to life. I am going to read to you the first two pages of Babar’s Little Circus Star.”
  5. Have children close their eyes and listen to you read a “Dry Read”
  6. Discuss the boring nature of that read. Then ask them why it was not interesting to them.
  7. Have children close their eyes again and read an “expressive read” of the same two pages. Then have the children write down a thing they liked about the second read. Ask the children to share with the class and write a few examples of what they liked on the board.
  8. Go around the classroom and have each child read a page from the book expressively. Encourage and coach each child through this exercise.
  9. After the book is read, explain to children this can be done in any reading you do. Write a couple sentences on the board and go around the room and have the children read the sentences out loud using several different emotions; i.e. Anger, Happiness, Sadness. Examples of sentences to use:

a.       My house is on 1st Street.

b.      My dog is brown and white.

c.       The mailman comes after 3 o’clock.



1)      Have each student read to the teacher from the book.  From this reading the teacher can do a checklist of reading fluency testing speed, smoothness, expression, and remembrance of words.

2)      Use the observation notes as a reference to monitor improvement of reading or to know who needs extra help.


                   Accuracy of Words:  would include words missed

                        Smoothness of Reading:  note smoothness or choppy reading

                        Speed:  One minute reads

                        Read with Expression:  what needs improvement, was it correct


Further Uses:


1)         Encourage children to read books to their parents or loved ones at home using this newfound skill.


2)         Revisit reading with expression briefly over the next few days in class, and have students break into groups and read aloud to each other using the expressive reading techniques you have taught them.


3)         Select a “group book” that you will read a few pages from aloud to the class each reading session. Read with passion and excitement to keep the children’s interest. Discuss with the class what the characters of the book may have been feeling or thinking based on your expressive reading.



Learn NC :  The North Carolina Teachers’ Network


Be Expressive! by Amanda Starnes


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For further information, contact mathija@auburn.edu