Read aloud in the primary grade classroom: is it happening?

Given the recent political emphasis on reading and in response to our national literacy crisis, the California Board of Education has mandated that all teachers and teacher candidates follow the California Reading Initiative. In addition, newly credentialed teachers must pass a new state reading exam before they receive a credential. However, even though the reading initiative recommends daily read aloud, nowhere in the state or district standards does it say that students will be read aloud to everyday. Despite the absence of read-aloud requirements in the state and district standards, the research on read-aloud supports its importance in the reading curriculum. All children interact with books before they are able to read. Research has shown that it is the nature in which children interact and how they are exposed to books that represents a critical link between literature and literacy (Roser, 1987). How then is this link applied in the primary grade classroom? Studies on reading aloud show that teachers spark an interest in their students by provoking curiosity, and arousing the desire to learn to read quickly and well. Yet, other research discusses how teachers often fail to realize the importance of story time (Strickland, 1989). Similarly, research on reading aloud highlights home reading aloud, but that same focus is not in the classroom. While reading aloud to children is a known powerful key element in the reading process, is it happening in our elementary school classrooms? This curiosity is what brings me to my research. In this qualitative study, I will analyze the amount of read-aloud that is occurring in the Kindergarten through grade five (5) classrooms. I will distribute anonymous surveys to three (3) public elementary schools (approximately 112 teachers) in a large Southern California school district, which all have a low socioeconomic status and high minority student population. My study hopes to raise awareness to the importance of read aloud in the classroom, produce dialogue among educators, and facilitate the read aloud process so that, hopefully, every teacher is reading aloud, everyday to students. Further study in the area of read aloud and story time in the elementary grades is recommended.