Literacy, Past Workshops

The How & Why of Reading Aloud to Children


Workshop held at Oasis Baby Bridge the Gap School in Cosmo City, Johannesburg

22 May 2019

An inspiring, meaningful and heartfelt morning was spent with the teachers from the Oasis Baby Bridge the Gap School, as well as a few teachers and principals from the local community. We were also joined by three young ladies who live locally and who are determined to get into teaching as a career.

The idea behind the workshop was to motivate, support and inspire these teachers to use the magic of READING ALOUD to grow the literacy levels of the children in their care, as effectively as possible, while developing & fostering a love of books & reading.

Our morning was filled with discussing / demonstrating the following:

  • Why should we read aloud to kids?
  • The process of introducing a new book or story that creates EXCITEMENT
    • Pre-reading strategies
    • Prediction
    • Drawing out known vocabulary
  • Reading the story & how to create MAGIC
    • Building excitement & interest through intonation & body language
    • Maintaining interest & engagement through questions & participation
    • Introducing new vocabulary
    • Linking new information with existing knowledge
    • Creating opportunities for repetition & discussion
  • After reading
    • End on a high note.
    • Always tell learners how much you enjoyed reading to them.
    • Compliment the learners on their behaviour & engagement levels.
    • Reading must be a feel-good activity and must be associated with positive things.
  • Extension activities
    • Extension activity: Discuss what happened in the story.
    • Extension activity: Allow learners to retell the story or parts of the story.
    • Extension activity: Bring in critical & analytical thinking by
      • asking learners to give their opinion regarding what one of the characters says or does
      • asking learners to say why they loved, liked, felt neutral to or hated the story giving reasons for their answers
      • ask learners what in their opinion a character could have done differently to change the outcome of the story
      • ask learners if they can think of ways that this story can be linked or likened to real life
    • Extension activity: All learners to draw their favourite characters from the story and then to present them to the class with a verbal description.
    • Extension activity: Stop before the end of the story and come up with your own endings.
    • Extension activity: Rewriting the end of the story even if you know what happens in the book / choose a different ending.
  • Why children love to reread stories over and over and why this is important.
  • How can you get something new out of a story every time you read it?
  • How frequently should children be read to?

Nyameka Ngqondi, one of the current teachers at Oases Baby Bridge the Gap School, identified the need to start a school for children who are excluded from local schools for various reasons. Oases Baby Bridge the Gap School fills a unique need for about 20 children. I was so impressed by how enthusiastic and well behaved the learners were and how passionate the teachers are. It made me all the more pleased to be able to conduct this workshop with them.

We ended our day by forming break-away groups and each teacher took a small group of children out into the sunshine and had the chance to read a book aloud to the learners while implementing what they had seen and heard. It was heartwarming to see the children upon their knees, clamoring around the teachers, completely transfixed by the stories being read to them. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful morning of learning & discovery.

To see the passion and drive demonstrated by the attending teachers & community members showed me, yet again, how much talent & commitment there is out there in South Africa. It also highlighted how many well-intentioned, yet invisible, individuals we have, doing great work out in our local communities, here in Johannesburg and across the country. They need recognition and a huge appreciative pat on the back as their jobs are hard and often thankless.

If you would like to find out more about upcoming workshops, please click HERE. Alternatively, if you would like to book a workshop to be presented at your organization, please contact Lianne at