Reading emotions: Teachers' style of reading aloud and children's emotional regulation, behavioral skills, and academic achievement

Richmond Carlton, Fordham University


The vast majority of teachers report reading aloud to their students in elementary school, and many studies show this to be a useful tool for increasing reading comprehension (Johnson, 2015). Reading aloud becomes more or less effective depending on the way in which a teacher reads, and studies have shown a transactional style to be the most effective (Nelson & Stage, 2007). However, little is known about the social or emotional benefits to children of hearing stories read aloud, particularly the effects on emotional regulation. It is proposed that the development of children’s emotional regulation skills can be promoted through the reading of fictional narratives (Oatley, 1999), and teachers can facilitate this process by using a transactional reading style to highlight and discuss emotional content. The current study included a subset of 16 teachers and 238 students of diverse ethnicity from six public elementary schools in New York City that were part of a larger school-based social-emotional learning intervention. Video recordings of the teachers reading aloud to their students, obtained from the coaching process associated with the delivery of the intervention, were coded to assess reading style as well as the level of emotional content discussed. Data on students’ emotional and behavioral outcomes were collected via teacher report and student self-report during the fall and spring. Student academic outcomes were collected in the spring from the local Department of Education. The results showed that utilizing a transactional reading style in the classroom was predictive of better teacher-reported literacy outcomes in the spring, compared to teachers who did not use a transactional style during reading. In particular, the discussion of students’ emotion during reading was related to greater emotional regulation. The results of this study are of great practical significance for parents and teachers, and point to the utility of using a transactional style of reading aloud at home or in the classroom. The results also highlight how using discussion creates a high-quality read aloud, and point to the importance of future research on how the particular topics discussed during reading contribute to students’ social skills, behavioral skills, and academic outcomes.

Subject Area

Literacy|Reading instruction|Developmental psychology|Psychology

Recommended Citation

Carlton, Richmond, "Reading emotions: Teachers' style of reading aloud and children's emotional regulation, behavioral skills, and academic achievement" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10192448.