Read Like a Teacher

Elementary education majors gathered for the Read Like a Teacher workshop, hosted by California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) College of Education Adviser for Student California Teachers Association Ondine Gage on Oct. 29.

Many students can remember the excitement they felt sitting in a circle in kindergarten as story time was about to begin and listening to a teacher read to them when they were young conjures up fond memories for many. The more animated teachers were as they were reading, the more it held the children’s attention. 

This event taught future teachers of young children how to read aloud to them, and what techniques they could use to keep children engaged. 

Gage was joined by Read Like a Teacher cofounder, Jaydene Elvin, who is an assistant professor of linguistics at California State University, Fresno.

Cheryl Chan, assistant coordinator for The Hub for Language Teaching and Learning, Alyssa Tobar; Read Like a Teacher cofounder; Andy Waldron, assistant professor of theater education at Ball State University also joined Gage for the workshop.

Elvin began the workshop by playfully asking participants what their favorite children’s books were when they were young, and answers ranged from the thought- provoking “The Giving Tree” and “Beautiful Blackbird,” to the more entertaining “Mustache Baby” and “Gerald McBoing-Boing.” 

Elvin then challenged attendees to think back to “how” the book was read to them. 

“Movement, voice and improvisation are very important when reading to a young child,” Elvin said. 

Read Like a Teacher was conceived based on these three principles. 

“Playing with the words in the book and using our voices to accent the different emotions helps foster an empathetic environment,” Elvin said. “Because you’re asking students to see things from another perspective.”

Tons of kids’ books have repetition in them, which not only helps children retain more, but also helps them remember patterns and connect key concepts. 

Tobar commented on how effective emotion is when reading to kids.

“Emphasis is really important, which word do you want to emphasize?” Tobar asked. “Facial expressions and tone can change the meaning of what is being read.” 

Sometimes students are cognitively not ready to understand the context of what is being read. Taking into account learning styles and background, shows that a teacher has empathy for their students, and that is something that student teachers need to master. 

Elvin reminded audience members to “be aware of the diversity in your classroom.” 

Stopping to ask questions while reading is another way to find out if your students are listening and retaining. 

“When getting answers from the class, it’s great to say, ‘what are these three ideas,’” Waldron said. “This limits how many kids are shouting out ideas and keeping you on track.” 

Waldron additionally added “We know that young people need practice identifying emotions on faces. What are they feeling? Why are they feeling it? Ask questions for participation.”

Teachers can have a roomful of restless young listeners who are eager to learn and be entertained. Some final tips on getting their attention: make sure you are holding the book correctly, know who you are reading to and read so you can see the words, but the students can see the pages in the book.

Lastly, practice reading to students as much as you can. 

“We’re hoping people will come to us for language teaching and learning,” Chan said. “How can we provide them with the best opportunities?” 
For more information about the program, please visit

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