TRC Read to Kids

Welcome to The Reading Connection’s blog, where you’ll find the best guidance on reading aloud to kids. Whether you are a TRC Read-Aloud volunteer, parent or student, the book themes and crafts ideas, child development guidelines and recommended websites will expand your world. For 25 years, The Reading Connection has worked to improve the lives of at-risk kids by linking the magic of reading to fun experiences that inspire a passion for learning. Visit our website at

Monday, December 12, 2016

At your fingertips: Abundant Read-Aloud themes

As a Reading Connection volunteer, you know how important it is to come to your Read-Aloud prepared. Having a great theme, a variety of good books, an engaging activity, talking points, and sometimes a tasty snack, can make all the difference between a rollicking good time and a stressful evening.

All that planning takes time, though, especially if you are starting from scratch. But there's no need to make it hard on yourself. TRC has dozens of Read-Alouds, planned out, in detail, waiting for you.

Volunteer Central
TRC’s volunteer database, Volunteer Central, contains a bank of themes collected from your Read-Alouds and Reading Road Maps compiled over the past several years. 

To search for a theme for your next Read-Aloud,

  • Log in to Volunteer Central.
  • Click the "Find Ideas for an Upcoming Read-Aloud" button on the upper right, or select “Read-Aloud Themes List” from the Read-Alouds menu at the top of your screen. The right-hand column of the table indicates if the themes have a Reading Road Map. To only show themes that have a Reading Road Map, click the "Reading Road Map Included?" column header.
  • Click on a theme. You'll find a list of the books read and activities done at any Read-Aloud that used this theme. A purple Reading Road Map link next to the theme name will take you to a printable PDF of the Reading Road Map.

You can also search recent Read-Alouds that have been held at your site or at other sites by

  • Selecting "Recent Read-Alouds" in the Read-Aloud menu. The system will default to show only your site, but you can select all sites to see themes from other sites. 
  • Selecting the date will bring you to the report summary of that Read-Aloud.
  • Selecting the theme will take you to a compilation of books and activities used with that theme.

Reading Road Maps
In addition to being stored on Volunteer Central, Reading Road Maps come right to your email every other month.  TRC sends Reading Road Maps to all of our volunteers. 

If you don't always keep the Reading Road Map emails, another way to find Reading Road Maps in Volunteer Central is to sort the themes so that the ones with Reading Road Maps show up first.  If you haven't been receiving the Reading Road Maps, check your spam folder or your Promotions tab, if you use Gmail. 

TRC's Blog
TRC's blog -- yes, the one you are reading right now -- also has lots of Read-Aloud themes and outlines. You can sign up to get it delivered to your email. Just put your email in the field labeled, in purple, "Follow by E-mail" on the right side of the page.

For posts specifically about planning, search for Read-Aloud reports or Read-Aloud themes.  Two Summer Reading posts (this one and this one) also have links to outlines. You can click on the theme (picnics, for example) and it will take you to an outline.

If you have a theme, but need activities, movement ideas, crafts, or ideas about how to best engage preschoolers or older kids, you can search the blog for helpful posts.

Outside Resources

Finally, other organizations and blogs produce themed readings outlines. Start With a Book is one of our favorites, and it happens to be based out of WETA, the PBS station in Arlington. Also available through WETA's Reading Rockets website are Reading Adventure Packs, which also have a list of fiction and nonfiction books related to a theme, and activities.

WorldCat is an international library database that lets you search for books, read reviews, preview contents, and see themed recommended book lists that others (including TRC) have created. If you are looking for books to beef up your Read-Aloud choices, you can even find links to similar books and related subjects. And the best thing about WorldCat is that you can see which library near you has the books you want.

Don't stress
The next time you have a Read-Aloud to plan, remember, we've already done the work for you. Check out Volunteer Central, your email, or Reading Rockets' Start with A Book or Reading Adventure Packs for fully planned Read-Alouds. Gather the books and materials listed on the outline, Reading Road Map, or Read-Aloud report and get ready for a rollicking good time!

To receive credit for this online training, please fill out the form here.