Saturday, May 27, 2017

In Defense of Read-Alouds

Packing up my classroom to move to another school I started with my books. I would take 2-3 office boxes of books home every day. As I packed the one thing I kept finding more and more of is books! They were everywhere! They are a huge focus of our classroom activities.

A few years ago my district decided to adopt yet another reading initiative. They were going to have all students reading by 3rd Grade. To do this we would be required to do guided reading and read-alouds. I was a little confused--doesn't everyone already do this? I attended a day long training to learn how to do a read-aloud and in speaking with other teachers realized they all don't do this. It was hard for me to wrap my head around.

We read a story every, single day. We read picture books, I read them chapter books. We read books to make connections in math, science, social studies, art. We read to learn about empathy and being a good friend. We read to learn about standing up for social justice.

Every week I go on my local library's website and request to put books on hold to go with upcoming themes. I check books out every week. One day this last week of school we had our field day and then painted like Michelangelo and had an assembly. We were getting ready to leave and one of my students says "Miss Trayers, we aren't going to read a book today?". When we were filling out our Kindergarten memories hands-down the most common memory was "Miss Trayers reading to us". They long for those activities as much as we do.

When I prepare a read-aloud, I read through finding any vocabulary I think will be unknown to my students and choose a few words to pre-teach. I often ask them to turn-and-talk about a time something similar happened to them to help them learn to make text-to-self connections. I don't like to interrupt the actual flow of the story with too many questions. I will ask a few questions at the end.

So what are my all-time, favorite read-alouds? Here are a few:

I love being silly and doing different accents so this one is perfect for me. The chickens decide to have a fiesta and try different recipes.

A classic, I know but still a beautiful, meaningful story. How are you going to make the world a more beautiful place.

An example of problem solving. Some boys in Africa are playing soccer and a bully wants their ball-but they are too clever for that.

I LOVE this book! It's a beautiful, thoughtful story about visiting your grandparents.

This is a great story to go along with Earth Day themes. She makes a little refuge for nature in her yard and it grows and grows.

The true story of the friendship between an abandoned baby hippo and an elderly tortoise. This one is a little wordy for the little ones, but they love that it's a true story.

For the love of a tree-this is a great empathy-developing story.

This is a funny story to read aloud because most of the child's dialogue is pretty indecipherable. But the students really like it.

An ingenious way to make new friends when you come to town-has a bit of a surprise ending that the students rarely figure out.

Another good example of problem-solving. Isabel wants a balloon for her own but she's a porcupine.

A worm and a caterpillar forge an unique friendship that extends even beyond metamorphosis.

My all-time favorite book about mindset and not giving up. A penguin with the soul of an eagle wants to fly.

This is a funny story to read-aloud and it has great illustrations!

I could probably list 1,000 books but those are a few of my faves.

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  1. I have way too many books as well but I think that it is the best investment I can make as a teacher. I want my students to be read to and read all types of books.

  2. It's hard to wrap my head around the lack of read-alouds in some classrooms too. I'm hoping we can change that.