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Old-fashioned reading in modern times

Literacy enthusiast that I am, I’ve always believed that the reading block in my class schedule should solely focus on, well, reading – reading long and strong, as well as reading across genres. Yet, there’s a third type of literacy that educators across the globe are acknowledging as increasingly important within a student’s repertoire. We find ourselves in an age of online literacy, and books are, quite literally, at our fingertips. I tried to fight it, I tried to resist becoming one of those to give up on the fresh scent of crisp pages in a brand new book, but there’s something to be said for being able to click a button and poof! – my favorite books are available. Instant gratification.

I was scouring the Internet in search of a fresh idea to incorporate fluency into my reading block. Fluency, the process of reading smoothly at a proper pace, and with appropriate amounts of expression, is a suitable goal of achievement within the third grade classroom. Adjusting to the rhythm of reading for meaning is often prompted by a reader’s ability to read fluently, as they are no longer focused on just reading words off of the page. I truly believe that readers are able to focus on what it means to be a fluent reader by listening to others reading. Modeling this type of reading helps students to internalize how they should sound both reading aloud, and in their own heads. However, sometimes even I, as their teacher, get tired of my own voice. It’s time for them to hear how others are accomplishing fluent reading!

Enter – an online reading platform where members of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation in Hollywood read children’s picture books aloud. All you have to do is type the website URL into the search bar, and a slew of beloved and highly recommended story options, from The Kissing Hand to I Need My Monster! are immediately accessible. Click on the picture book you want to read, and a video immediately pops up onto the screen that shifts from the actor’s face to the pictures in the book. My students, who adore listening to those reading aloud, love entering into this immediate story time experience. Captions are provided as an accommodation if necessary. I’ve been toying with whether or not students should have the actual texts with them as they follow the stories along with the videos. I’ve also been tossing around the idea of having them record a beloved Read Aloud Story in order to self-assess their own fluency. There are so many roads that this simple website has taken me along, and I’m eager to hear what the rest of you have to say about it!

What do you think?'s home page showing one of the narrators.'s home page showing one of the narrators.
Stacy Tell
Stacy Tell
Stacy Tell received her undergraduate degree in Childhood/Special Education from New York University, and her master’s in Language & Literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is passionate about helping students to become lifelong readers and is currently teaching in a third grade classroom in Weston, Massachusetts.

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