Chapter Book Read Alouds During Online Learning

We study Colonial America and the American Revolution up to the Constitution in our fifth grade Social Studies curriculum, and a large part of making that seem relevant was reading Laurie Halse Anderson's trilogy: Chains, Forge, and Ashes.

My kids were hooked! We read aloud two to three chapters every day during snack time and couldn't get enough of her amazing imagery, realistic details, and sense of adventure and suspense!

So, when school was cancelled in the middle of the second book, I knew I had to keep this online read aloud tradition alive.


The first thing I wanted to do to keep this routine going was to record myself reading these chapters aloud in advance.

I plopped myself in front of my laptop with my coffee, turned on Zoom, found a fun battlefield background, and recorded my read aloud sessions.

I try to keep these sessions about 15-20 minutes total. For these books, that works out to about two chapters a day.

**If you want to know how to use Virtual Backgrounds in Zoom, click HERE or watch below:

This was the recent result in our Ashes read aloud:


I chose to save all of my read alouds on my school YouTube account. I have them Unlisted, but I like that I can schedule them to post on a certain day at a certain time.

If you do schedule a video, it will post as Public, but I just go in and change it to Unlisted some time that day and it takes just a few seconds.

I am choosing to keep these Unlisted to keep them between my class and myself. During the read aloud, I will pause and share my reactions, connect it back to things we learned in class, and I want to remain respectful of the author and her work.

Cover Art

Because we have so many read alouds, I designed simple cover art with Bitmoji me, the book cover, and the chapters covered.

I did this on Google Slides and download the slide I need as a PNG to add it to the Cover Art when I upload it to YouTube.

Super simple, but it's an easy way for the kids to see the chapters we're reading that day. I have several students who are following along with the actual book or on their Kindle version, so I want them to know where we are.

Google Classroom

The last step is to upload the link to Google Classroom. I schedule these out as well and they post about fifteen minutes after they go "live" on YouTube.

Most students watch directly from Google Classroom, which I prefer, since that is our main hub and I want to keep this online learning as streamlined as possible.

**If you're interested in how I added the blue book emoji, click HERE.

Every week day, at 9:30am, my kids get a notice that another read aloud has posted and they can follow along with these amazing stories.

While the above four steps may seem like a lot, YouTube and Google Classroom have made the processes so easy to schedule, it takes less than five minutes to get them uploaded and scheduled for the week ahead.

I hope these helped keep read alouds manageable and doable for your online learning situation. Let me know if you have any questions and be sure to check out this trilogy if you study the American Revolution!


  1. Do I have to have Google Classroom already in place?

    1. As long as there's a place where you can post a link to the video, you should be all set! Thanks and I hope you have a great week ahead :)