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The Ramped-Up Read Aloud

The Ramped-Up Read Aloud
What to Notice as You Turn the Page

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July 2018 | 304 pages | Corwin

What if each page of a picture book was guaranteed to enhance a child’s reading and writing tenfold? Would you ramp up your read alouds? In this remarkable resource, Maria Walther shares two-page read aloud experiences for 101 picture books that tune you into what to notice, say, and wonder in order to bolster students’ literacy exponentially. 

The read alouds in this book will help teachers:

  •  Foster a strong sense of community
  • Celebrate the written (and illustrated) word 
  • Build a foundation for future reading and learning
  • Expand vocabulary (with a focus on Tier 2 words)
  • Support budding writers
  • Spark collaborative conversations
  • Encourage perspective-taking, empathy, and a growth mindset  

A first grade teacher for decades, Maria is a master of “strategic savoring.”  Her lesson design efficiently sparks instructional conversations around the cover illustration, enriching vocabulary words, literary language, and the ideas and themes vital to young learners.

Maria arranges the rich fiction and nonfiction titles into chapters that mirror the way primary teachers plan curriculum. Need books tailor made for building community? Teaching literary elements? Comprehension strategies?  Foundational and language skills? Inspiring writers? It’s all here and at the ready. Coaching tips on expressive oral reading, strategic seating, uncovering language nuances for EL students, effective questioning and more make the art of sharing books and learning with children do-able for everyone. 

Teachers, schools, and districts looking to energize your core reading and writing program, search no further: The Ramped-Up Read Aloud delivers a formula for literacy development and joy in equal parts. 

About the Author
Ten Compelling Reasons to Read Aloud

Six Secrets to Successful Read-Aloud Experiences

Four Ways to Network and Find New Books

Four Ways You Might Use This Book

Chapter 1: Create a Joyful Classroom Community
Transforming the Classroom World

Chapter 2: Converse About Literary Elements—Fiction
Reading Really Good Stories

Chapter 3: Converse About Comprehension—Fiction
Imagining Ourselves Into Books

Chapter 4: Converse About Comprehension— Informational and Narrative Nonfiction
Diving Into Informational Texts

Chapter 5: Build Foundational and Language Skills
Working With Words

Chapter 6: Inspire Writers
Sharing the Gift of Writing

Professional Resources Cited

Children’s Literature Cited



This book is a gold mine for both longtime picture book lovers as well as those just beginning to build a classroom library! It is a comprehensive resource jam-packed with some of the best, most recent titles accompanied by learning strategies sure to make reading aloud a joyful experience for all. Her fresh ideas helped me see familiar, well-loved books in a new way as well as discover new titles to get the most out of a read aloud session! Her recommendations are thoughtful and purposefully chosen to engage, delight, and ignite a sense of wonder in even the most reluctant readers. As you read, be sure to have your highlighter, sticky notes, and "books to read” list ready! I’ve already used many of these read aloud experiences with great success and know this will be an invaluable resource I will return to again and again to inspire readers! It is the perfect read aloud companion every teacher needs to invite students to read, think, and talk about books.

Kristen Mullikin, First-Grade Reading Coach
Elk Grove, California

Maria Walther has become one of my most trusted resources for quality book recommendations for use in the classroom. Maria has a keen eye for identifying books that pair well together, matching books with effective lessons, and noticing details within books to enhance lesson plans. In this new book, Maria demonstrates how educators can squeeze every drop out of a read aloud experience, while providing an abundance of tips, resources, and ideas to maximize these sacred times in classrooms. Maria’s book not only educates us on strategies for making the most of read aloud experiences; she also introduces us to a plethora of high-quality children’s literature titles essential for classrooms.

Dylan C. Teut, MEd, Executive Director, Plum Creek Children's Literacy Festival

If you were even the slightest bit trepid about selecting and reading picture books . . . this book will thoroughly erase that feeling, forever! Get ready to be “ramped up” so you can spark a fire and get your students to love diving into picture books! Dr. Maria Walther has done most of the work for you in this easy-to-read guide to just about everything picture book–related! All you have to do is implement, implement, implement and then read, read, read!

Rhonda Jenkins, Library Media Center Director
Kendall Elementary School, Naperville, Illinois

This book is filled to the brim with practical and inspirational advice about the importance of read-alouds! Maria offers every teacher a way into this vital literacy practice. Her energy and love of children and books—as well as her imagination and creativity and love of learning—are evident on every page. From why to how—Maria has it covered. She writes from a place of knowing with a voice that’s authentic and powerful. And Maria’s book choices are brilliant and fresh (which, of course, caused me to buy way too many of her recommendations right away!). The Ramped-Up Read Aloud is an important book to energize your literacy classroom now and into the future.

Ruth Culham, author of Teach Writing Well: How to Assess Writing, Invigorate Instruction, and Rethink Revision

The Ramped-Up Read Aloud by Maria Walther is one of the most important books of our time! Read it and rededicate yourself to the importance of reading aloud to primary-grade children as well as to students in Grades 4 through 12. Reading aloud simultaneously nurtures positive relationships with students, builds community and vocabulary, and shows children how to think deeply about books. Equally important, read alouds expose children to beautiful, literacy language, to visual literacy, and to stories that touch their hearts and feed their minds. Walther starts with 10 proven reasons for reading aloud, in case you or your principal doubts the learning power of this daily practice. Then, skillfully and passionately, Maria takes you through ways to develop successful read alouds, how to network to find new books, and how to use the ideas in this book to make the read aloud "a joyful celebration for all." If there's one book you read this year, put Walther's at the top of your list. It will change your life and your students' lives forever!

Laura Robb, Author of Read, Talk, Write and Vocabulary Is Comprehension

In the Ramped-Up Read Aloud, Maria Walther writes: "I've selected the texts in this book to help you nurture an intellectually and emotionally healthy classroom..." What a beautiful rationale for book selection and read aloud support! The book lists that so richly texture this resource are organized to facilitate teaching points and showcase lesson supports designed to elevate student engagement through teacher think aloud, comprehension conversations, vocabulary building, and open-ended questions. This one is a must have!

Linda Hoyt, Author of Make It Real: Strategies for Success with Informational Texts

Dr. Walther breaks down the methods and science of reading picture books aloud without losing sight of the fact that, at some level, a good read-aloud experience is just plain magic. This book makes me want to read to kids.

Tom Lichtenheld, Author/Illustrator

Excellent and timely resource for teachers!

Dr Mary Napoli
Sch Of Behavior Sci/Education, Penn State Univ-Harrisburg
November 15, 2018

Maria P. Walther

Maria Walther is a seasoned educator, author, and literacy consultant with over three decades of experience teaching first grade. Her practical, yet engaging approach to classroom instruction has made her a trusted partner for educators seeking effective teaching strategies. With a doctoral degree from Northern Illinois University, Maria is an avid researcher who continues to further her knowledge of literacy instruction. Maria is a strong advocate for reading aloud and has been honored for her dedication to fostering a love of reading in children with the Illinois Reading Educator of the Year and the ICARE for Reading Award. One of Maria... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781506380049