What’s the Best Read Aloud Routine? Novels or Picture Books?

This past year, I changed up my read aloud routine from reading novels to my third graders to reading a picture book a day. I definitely enjoyed all the new books I was able to read and found a few new favorites, too. I do, however, miss some of my favorite novels I’ve read with my class in the past. The other day, one of my students asked me what I liked reading better, picture books or novels. And well, the answer is both! Here are some of my favorite things about each read aloud routine. 

Read Aloud Routine: Novels 

  • There is a real investment in the novel and nothing beats the students begging for just one more chapter.
  • The class develops a strong connection to the characters and events in the story. We often revisit ideas, characters and themes from our books throughout the year. 
  • This is a great way to help students develop stamina for longer books and encourages students to read novels themselves. 
  • Students flock to the library to check out other books in the series or by the same author.
  • It takes less plan time because you only need to pick out a handful of books each year. It is also easy for planning because you pick up wherever the bookmark is in the book. 
Read Aloud Routines make students say "Just one more chapter!" Photos shows different novels to highlight reading novels to students as a read aloud routine.

Read Aloud Routine: Picture Books

  • Easier to pick mentor texts that match the reading skills students are working on. Many times, I pick a focus question for students to think about as we read, and we briefly discuss it after the book is over. 
  • A great way to explore many different authors and illustrators
  • Select picture books that create cross-curricular connections. You can easily find picture books (both fiction and nonfiction) to match social studies, science, or even math lessons. This gives students another chance to make connections and build on understanding. 
  • Incorporate different holidays and celebrations by selecting picture books that match. For instance, make sure to find picture books for women’s history month, Black history month, Hispanic heritage month as well as to celebrate holidays like Christmas and Ramadan, as well as silly holidays such as national llama day. 
  • If students are absent, they don’t need a recap about what they missed because each day is a new book. 
Text Reads: "Connect picture books to curriculum." Picture shows a picture book of the grand canyon with math practice that connects to Arizona
I looked for a picture book to read from each U.S. state. My students loved having math practice to connect to each state. Grab Math About All 50 States by clicking here

This year, one of my favorite read aloud activities included so many cross curricular pieces. Our class listened to picture book from a different U.S. state each day. Here is the list of a picture book for each state. This allowed us to talk about history, cultural differences from different regions, and enjoy a variety of different picture books.

After reading, students completed a math page that had addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division computation practice and some place value practice that included information on each state’s capital and state symbols. I loved seeing my students get additional social studies and math practice, all while enjoying books! They agreed because my students gave rave reviews of our book and math tour of the United States. 

Read Aloud Routine: Both Novels + Picture Books

Of course, there are many positives that are true for both novels and picture books.  Thinking about next year, I think I will mix it up. I think I will go back to a few of my favorite novels to read and include a picture book from each U.S. state.

 One thing for sure, read aloud will always have a place in my lesson plans. Click here to read about why every classroom should include read aloud. 

I would love to hear about your read aloud routine! Do you read novels or picture books or both?

Make Every Teaching Moment Count,

Signature that says, "Love, Julie from Llama with Class"

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