Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Best Thing You Can Do All Day

One of the most rewarding and worthwhile activities you can perform as a teacher is to consistently read aloud to your students.  There is absolutely no other thing you will do during the day for or with your students that will hold their attention more or reap more benefits. As parents, we train our little ones to look forward to being read to usually by making it the last thing we do before they head to dreamland each night. We snuggle up with them and read books over and over until we could do it with our eyes closed.  But we do it - because it is so important and so powerful in their literacy development - even as babies.

Over the past 5 years, read aloud has been pushed aside in the schools because "we don't have time". We were preparing them for the state tests, which became more important. Unfortunately, many teachers stopped making time for reading aloud.

Well, read aloud is back.  With the onset of Common Core, teachers are being encouraged to get their students back to the love of reading and the author's craft.  Hallelujah!  This is making me a very happy teacher again!  Personally, I love to read and I have read millions (???) of books in my lifetime.  I want to pass my love of reading onto my students and there is no better way than to read some of my favorites to them. If you love a book, they probably will too.

Here is my top 5:

1. Because of Winn DixieKate DiCamillo 

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! India Opal is such a sweet inspirational character and we fall in love with her over and over in this book. The heartbreak she experiences over her mother leaving her and her father is at the core of this story. But Opal learns many lessons and being grateful for the flawed people in her life is one of them. Such an inspiration to kids who are struggling in their own broken families. I think they really connect with this character - not to mention, her funny dog Winn Dixie.                                                 
2. White Giraffe, Lauren St. John

Another story of a child who has experienced the loss of parents and has to move to Africa to a grandmother she never knew.  It's a classic story of how a child overcomes loss through a connection to animals - in this case - a white giraffe. I think the author does a wonderful job of using beautiful language and imagery to help the reader visualize what South Africa looks like. It's also a great resource when teaching descriptive writing techniques.

3.   Snot Stew, Bill Wallace

Sounds gross, right?  That's exactly why I read it!  My third graders listen intently every day to find out what Snot Stew is and when it starts to become clear - they love the play on words! They also think I'm kind of cool because I read a book with the word snot in it!

4.   The Miraculous Adventures of Edward Tulane, 
       Kate Di Camillo

I am currently reading this to my class and they moan and groan when I close the book at the end of the chapter each day.  A china rabbit named Edward Tulane learns what love is through a series of unfortunate events in his life. It takes place over many years and many encounters with a variety of temporary owners. This one reads like a classic novel. I discovered this one a few years ago and it's definitely one of my favorites.

5.  A Bad Case of Stripes, David Shannon

The classic book about being true to yourself.   I usually read this at the beginning of the year because I want my new third graders to know that it is perfectly acceptable to be different and be proud of it.  By the way, I too LOVE lima beans!

These are my top 5 read alouds and I am looking forward to sharing each one with my kiddos this year. It's those precious 10 - 15 minutes after lunch that we all look forward to. So happy it's back!

What are your favorite read alouds?

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