Challenge #6: Start creating a thoughtful stack of books you can’t wait to read aloud to your students. Of course once you meet next year’s students you’ll naturally adjust, but now is your chance to make sure you’re never caught short of read aloud ideas.
“More than all the academic benefits, the most important thing about reading aloud to a child is giving them the gift of the joy of reading.” -Ernest Morrell
Then Read Aloud
If you want kids to want to read,
Then read aloud to them.
If you want kids to fall crazy in love with great books,
Then read great books aloud to them.
If you want kids to view books as a way to learn about themselves,
Then read aloud books that mirror the soul.
If you want kids to travel to new corners of their minds,
Then read aloud stories of adventure and exploration.
If you want kids to become civil and graceful human beings,
Then read aloud tales that teach respect and human kindness.
If you want kids never to stop growing as readers,
Then never stop reading aloud.
Kari Yates, Simple Starts 2015
How Does This Help Grow A Community of Readers?
The early days of the school year are prime time for oodles of read alouds! In fact, many teachers we know greet their students with a read aloud within the very first moments of the first day. When it comes to finding ways to make the first days memorable, ensure success for every single student, build relationships, and help ease students back into the routines of the school day, read aloud is at the top of our list.
There are countless strategies you might use for choosing read aloud texts, but we hope your first is simply to choose for the pure joy of it. Read aloud is your daily opportunity to say to students, “Reading is an amazing way to spend your time. I can’t wait to share this book with you!”
As the year progresses, read aloud becomes the bedrock foundation of who you are and where you’ve traveled together as a reading community. It becomes your history and the collection of stories and experiences that you come back to and draw on throughout the days, the weeks, and the months ahead. Read aloud supports your content area learning. And maybe most importantly, it sets every member of the community up for full participation every time.
Read aloud is your chance to sell the love of reading every day. It has the potential to expand every students’ sense of possibility when we use it to introduce new authors, topics, genres, grade level favorites, and ways of choosing, navigating, and reflecting on texts. So, what better time than to today to start a stack. Pile up a couple of dozen books or more that you hope to share with your readers.
Ideas to Get Started
- Help read alouds live on in your classroom. Create a “Books We’ve Read Together” basket to place books in after they’ve been read aloud. This makes all the books you’ve read aloud available to students during independent reading. The read aloud acts as a preview and a scaffold making texts accessible to a much wider range of students.
- Use read aloud to strategically introduce new authors, genres, or first book in a popular series that you hope some readers might get hooked on.
- Collect multiple copies of favorite read alouds so that you can easily share them with multiple interested readers after the initial reading.
- Read aloud a first chapter or section of a longer text that you hope will intrigue some readers to finish on their own.
- Make sure your read aloud includes a wide variety of text types and lengths. If reading aloud a full length novel to your students, try interspersing some shorter length texts along the ways, such as picture books, poetry, or new articles.
- Choose some read alouds that have cross curricular connections, allowing you to get more bang for your buck because time is our most precious resource.
- Be sure to use read aloud (and book talks) to do what Donalyn Miller refers to “blessing the book”. This means strategically including texts that every type of reader in our class might enjoy, even some that are very nontraditional or well below below grade level. By doing so, you say to the whole reading community, “This type of text is a worthy and legitimate choice in our classroom.”
- Keep in mind, once your students arrive, you may want to adjust some of your choices to make sure all of your readers are represented in the books you choose to read aloud. Nothing feels more welcoming and warm to a child than reading a book and thinking, “Hey, that kid is just like me!” So, pick your books ahead of time, but leave room to add more after you meet your new students.
- Get in the habit of routinely asking others for recommendations. Ask your teaching colleagues, library/media specialist, and students what they recommend.
- Utilize online resources to get new ideas of what’s hot for your age group. We’ve provided some starting points in the helpful links section below.
There are so many amazing books in the world, and you only have about 180 days to read aloud, so now is the perfect time to start to create that pile or basket of books that represent the experiences and opportunities you want to offer this year’s readers.
From We are Teachers
We’d love to hear from you. What are some books you’re considering reading aloud n the first days of school? Please share some of your selections with our Facebook group. Come and join us!
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