12 Read Aloud Strategies for School Counselors 

By Laura Driscoll
Read Time:  min
Ready to use strategies to get students talking and thinking

Are you using read alouds during your class lessons? Of course! Books reel students in and bring social-emotional topics to life. But do you feel you aren't quite sure how to engage a group of 20+ elementary students?

I'm all about borrowing from our teacher friends.

I saw how they planned lessons and created my approach for planning counseling sessions. They use classroom management tricks to tame the wildest classes, and I took notes.

They have a big toolbox to take from when it comes to read aloud engagement. So I'm sharing 12 strategies you can use the next time you start a read aloud.

Planning SEL Read Alouds

What social emotional skills are you trying to target? Write those at the top of your lesson plan.

Read through the story and make notes about parts related to your target skills.

Use the read aloud strategies to get students thinking  and talking about the social emotional themes.

In My Heart Lesson Plan with Read Aloud Strategies

12 Read Aloud Strategies

Introduce the Story

Tell the students what the book is about. Even tell them the ending.

“In this story, we are going to meet Oliver, a puzzle piece which is having a hard time finding where he fits in.”(Turn to the last page with Oliver) “I’ll let you know that Oliver does find where he fits, but it wasn’t easy. Let’s find out how he found a place he could be himself and what happened along the way.”

Multiple Readings

Do a picture walk. Read the story through and then read again using the engagement strategies.

Think Aloud

Model for students what you are thinking while reading and connect it to your objectives.

Read Aloud Strategies - Think Aloud

Stop and Jot

Have students stop and write down their thoughts about something happening in the book.

The Dot Read Aloud Strategies


Use a summary sheet where students quickly tell what happened in the book.

Integrate Vocabulary

As you read, provide a synonym or definition for unfamiliar vocabulary. It's definitely helpful to go through and make a list of these ahead of time.

Make Connections

Help students make connections between the text and themselves or the world.

"Have you every tried to change something about yourself to fit in like Oliver did?"

Check for Understanding

Questions that will help determine what students are understanding about key parts of the story.


Making guesses about what will happen in the story based on what has already happened, what they know, or the illustrations.

"Molly Lou Melon is going to a new school where no one knows her. What do you think is going to happen?"

Turn & Talk

Turn and talk with your neighbor given a prompt.

"Molly Lou Melon is short and has buck teeth. Her grandmother tells her to walk proud and smile. How does her grandmother want Molly Lou Melon to feel about herself?"

Group Poll

Poll the class with a yes or no question using a thumbs up or down.

Vashti’s teacher encourages her to just make a mark and Vashti actually does it! Do you have someone who supports and encourages you?

Ask Why Question at the End

Ask a question that requires students to make an inference that connects several story events. 

Start Using Read Aloud Strategies

Read alouds are a great medium for classroom counseling lessons and small groups. Adding in a few favorite engagement strategies can get students thinking deeper about our target social emotional themes. 

What strategy are you going to use for your next read aloud?

Shop SEL Read Alouds

Printable lessons plans and activities to target social emotional skills.

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I’m a school psychologist who left her office (closet?) and got busy turning a decade of experience into ready to use counseling and SEL resources.

I live in New York City with my adventurous husband and relaxed to the max daughter who’ve grown to appreciate my love of a good checklist.

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