Express Yourself!


Growing Independence & Fluency (Reading w/ expression)

By:  Jenna Sumlin



In order for children to learn to make stories more interesting they must realize that simply being able to decode a book is not enough.  Hearing books being read aloud helps children be able to hear what a difference it makes when you read with expression.  Modeling how to read with expression and enthusiasm allows students to understand how reading in this way keeps an audiences attention and makes stories “come to life.”  The following activities allow students the opportunity to see, hear, and practice reading that is filled with expression.  Learning to read with expression helps children develop a love for reading.





1)       Begin the lesson by discussing what it means to read with expression.  “Have you ever heard someone read a good story but they read it in a way that made you bored?  Well, that is what happens when you read without expression.  When you read without expression it makes your audience lose interest.  But, when you change the sound of your voice throughout the book it keeps the audience interested because you are reading with expression.”

2)       “Let’s take a look at some sentences.  I am going to read them once with expression. (Read the sentences:  I had a wonderful day at school today; The teacher was dressed up like a pumpkin; She gave us coke floats and chocolate chip cookies)  How did that sound to you?  Did it make you want to listen to me read?  (Allow time for students to respond).  That’s right.  It sounded boring and it made you lose interest.  Now I am going to read them with expression (Read sentence again).  What differences did you hear between the two time I read?  (The second time you- as the teacher- should read with excitement and enthusiasm saying them in a higher tone with a happy sound to your voice)  Which way seems more interesting?  (Allow time for students to respond)  Very good!  You all noticed what a positive difference it makes when you read with expression.  Whenever you are reading with expression it makes the audience ‘be on the edge of their seat’ waiting to hear what comes next.”

3)       Now I am going to read a really funny book called Monster Manners.  It is a book about a monster named Rosie who keeps forgetting her monster manners- which, as you might have guessed, are what we would call very poor manners!  As I read I want you to listen carefully to decide whether I am reading with expression or not.  At the end of each page I want you to either stand up and do a monster pose if I was reading with expression.  If I finish a page and I wasn’t reading with expression I want you to stay seated and do a sleepy pose (model this) to show that a book gets boring when you don’t read enthusiastically.”  (Read 5 or 6 pages changing up the reading pattern and allow the students to “strike a pose.”  Be sure to make it clear that just because you may read softly at some points does not mean that you are reading without expression.  It depends on what is happening in the story as to how you express yourself).

4)       “Now I am going to stop here so that you can read to each other and see what happens next.”  (Put the students into pairs and give each pair a copy of the book.  Have the students take turns reading alternating pages in the story.  Tell the students to critique each other when they get done.  They must tell each other one thing they did that was great and one thing they could work on.  Tell the students:  “If you want you partner to stay interested you better read with expression.”  Allow them to read their page silently before they read it out loud so that they can read with more expression.



In order to assess the students call them up to your desk one by one after they are done reading with their partner.  Allow them to pick a page out of the book that they want to read to you.  Use your checklist to assess whether they are:

1)     Reading with expression

2)     Using the correct tone

3)     Moving at the right speed

Give each student a score between 0-3 on each part of the assessment.  3 being they did an excellent job and 0 meaning that they did not try at all.




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