Read Aloud


My favorite time of the day, hands down, is our ‘read aloud’ time.  

With the push for the “common core” (gag), we are asked now to read picture books instead of novels when we read to our kids. We’re supposed to model comprehension and all that stuff.

I haven’t gone there yet.  

I keep reading really great novels.   I love them. The kids love them.  And this is a story of how that practice has helped a child.

I had a girl in my class last year who was a “reluctant reader”.  This child was smart and capable.  But she was the only child of a Harvard librarian and a museum curator.  They are “READERS”, if you know what I mean.  These wonderfully devoted parents were absolutely determined to make a “READER” out of their girl.  They were absolutely in despair when she reached the fifth grade and continued to resist all of the great books that they brought to her.

I tried to advise them to back off.  I tried to explain that a confident, secure young woman would like very much to choose her own areas of interest.  I tried to suggest that if they backed off, she might find her way to books on her own.  

They politely ignored my suggestion.

Then came the day when one of my strong readers recommended a book for me to read aloud.  The book is called “Out of My Mind”. It’s beautiful.   The strong reader who recommended it told me that she had gotten the suggestion to read the book from my reluctant reader.

Oh, really?

As I began the book, I would refer once in a while “Those of you who have already read this book” and my reluctant reader would beam.  Gradually, over the course of the four weeks that it took me to read the book, this little girl began to think of herself as an expert on this book.  She engaged in, and even lead, several discussions about the writing, the themes, the author’s thoughts. 

It was fabulous.

As this child went on to sixth grade, I hoped that she would keep her confidence and her love of literature.

Sure enough, her sixth grade ELA teacher told me that she considers this girl to be a “very strong” reader.  She was surprised that I had ever had concerns.

 

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Keep doing what you are doing! You are right and the Common Core people are wrong. I read Out of My Mind to my Class this year as part of the Global Read Aloud. It is not a book I would have selected on my own. My kids loved it, and several went on to reread it on their own. Great literature is the most effective way to turn kids into readers, and it’s good for the soul.

    Reply

  2. How could I not like this!? It’s wonderful!

    Reply

  3. I’m having one of those “if only” moments. “If only” my son had gone to school and found even one teacher like you. My son fought reading every school day. Although we didn’t know it at the time (very few people had ever heard of it back then), he has Dyslexia. Since I was an excellent reader myself, of course I wanted my son to enjoy reading, and couldn’t understand why he didn’t. I read to him at bedtime. I’d stop in an interesting place and leave the book by his bed (along with a flashlight). I’d get books that his favorite movies came from. Nothing helped, because I didn’t understand the problem.

    All on his own, he fought the daily battle of words not making sense and slowly found a way to learn that the written word could open a whole new universe for him. How? He finally learned to enjoy reading through comic books, which eventually led him to reading the classics. Even though he now has an adult son of his own, I still feel sad to think back to those days when he was alone in his battle with the printed page, and there was no one to help.

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    • I am really so grateful that we’ve come so far in our understanding of learning disabilities! I have a couple of colleagues who had reading disabilities, and who are teachers now. They are able to really empathize with kids in ways that make it at least bit easier to have to struggle so much just to read and write.
      School can be such a harsh challenge for so many children; they really are my heroes, just for getting up every day and coming back.

      Reply

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