News & Events

Tandem Trains Books Inc. Staff in Interactive Read Aloud Techniques

by | May 24, 2017 | Our Blog

On April 12th, the Tandem team held a short training for Books Inc. children’s department employees as part of their bi-annual meeting. The training was set up to teach booksellers valuable interactive Read Aloud techniques to bring their own storytime reading to life at their respective Books Inc. locations throughout the Bay Area. This training was held at the Books Inc. main office and warehouse in San Francisco.

The Purpose

Tandem’s relationship with Books Inc. has been a mutually beneficial one over the years. Books Inc. is known as the “West’s Oldest Independent Bookseller,” and their interest in hosting storytime in all its stores is rooted in their belief in building their community and providing a safe space for all community members to enjoy books together. Organizers of the meeting requested Tandem share its expertise in engaging young children ages zero to five and making Read Alouds a more interactive experience for children and families. One participant representing the Burlingame store was particularly interested in learning how to make his storytime more engaging for the youngest of book lovers, ages two through six. Tandem provided all those in attendance with the skills they needed to make sure every storytime not only was fun for those involved, but also provided a model for how parents could share books more interactively with their children at home.

Books Inc. employees review a Tandem tipsheet on how to make reading a more interactive experience.

What We Did

Tandem Community Literacy Specialist Kaitlin Pearce presented a workshop on early language and early brain development, condensed to provide quick background information on children’s language acquisition.She also taught the group simple, effective strategies for making book-sharing a more interactive, engaging experience for children. First, the group focused on the importance of asking open-ended questions to help children think critically about the story and to generate responses during the reading experience.

Incorporating movements into storytime is another great way to keep children engaged – especially those that may find it a little difficult to sit still throughout an entire book. Making sure that sharing books together is a fun time means being flexible and following the child’s pace. Children actually learn better when they can move around and act out what they see on the pages of a book, plus it makes the reading experience more fun for everyone! Pearce also talked about using silly sounds and voices to make book characters come alive, and encouraging a young audience to get in on the fun by mimicking the sounds they hear. A great way to hold children’s attention during readings is to use familiar songs and games a child may have heard or played at school or at home. Games can be as simple as quick rhymes (say bat…cat…hat!) or can involve searching for certain animals or objects within the illustrations (Do you see an elephant holding an umbrella on this page? Everyone point to the umbrella so I can find it!). Throughout the presentation, Kaitlin stressed the importance of reading for young children:  “Realize how books open up a world of new experiences. We want children to fall in love with books and to become lifelong readers.”

Tandem’s Kaitlin Pearce speaks about early child development and the importance of sharing books with children from birth.

From Learning to Practice

Participants then paired up to spend time honing their own interactive Read Aloud skills. The video below demonstrates how one Books Inc. employee used the skills she learned during Tandem’s presentation.


We are so happy to share our engagement strategies with the Books Inc. staff! We’re also pleased to announce that thanks to their online wishlist, you can enjoy sharing beautiful, diverse children’s books written and illustrated by local authors and support Tandem to provide books, training, and resources to children, families, educators, and community partners. When you purchase books from our Books Inc. wishlist online, Books Inc. will donate 5% of the proceeds to support Tandem programming.

For more information on Books Inc. for kids and to find information on Books Inc. storytimes, visit


Talia Hafter

Talia Hafter

Communications Intern

Talia Hafter is Tandem’s Communications and Social Media Intern in San Francisco. She goes to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and is majoring in Communication Studies.

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