That an educator should read texts aloud to children is a cornerstone of literacy pedagogy. And although it is well established that reading aloud to children occurs frequently across educational contexts, less clear is the ways those unique contexts shape the text choices, teaching strategies and expectations for children’s engagement with these literacy learning experiences. The findings shared in this paper sit within a larger study examining the changing literacy demands for learners across their schooling years. The paper examines the literacy learning demands during acts of reading aloud as they were offered in two pre-school settings (prior-to-school) and two Kindergarten classrooms (the first year of formal primary schooling). Analyses of classroom observations and teacher semi-structured interview transcripts through the interactions, the time structures, the use of space and of resources illustrate Bernstein’s theory of visible and invisible literacy learning pedagogies evident in these representations of reading aloud. Considered in the paper are implications for children when pedagogical decisions constrain and enable early literacy learning. The paper contributes to existing understandings about early literacy learning by arguing for greater clarity in the ways the teaching of reading is positioned and articulated for children.