We read aloud in my classroom.
Like, A LOT a lot.
Picture books mostly. But also the first chapter of a novel every Friday (#FirstChapterFriday), poems, interesting articles… even threads in Twitter have taken the stage in our classroom! But picture books are our preference.
As much as secondary ELA teachers seemed surprised by this, I am equally surprised how often this doesn’t happen in middle schools and high schools.
Reading aloud with my students is one of the few times in my day when I am totally and completely content… “Zen” if you will. To think that so many teachers deny themselves (and their students) this simple pleasure makes me sad.
But, from what I am hearing, it’s often because they know they might be told by a principal or administrator that it is a “waste of time.” (Agh. How could anyone even say that out loud?!?)
Secondary teachers, I implore you: READ ALOUD TO YOUR STUDENTS. And if your principal or supervisor asks why you are “wasting time” doing this, tell them:
1. It builds community.
There is a reason why almost every single elementary school lesson begins with a book: stories catch our attention and then bring us together! Long before people could read and write, they told stories. Stories are the glue of any culture/community/religion/family. They bring us “home.” The first week of school, I spend far more time sitting on the carpet with kids reading then we do in our desks working. I can’t think of any better way to kick-start our classroom community.
And if you need a few articles to back you up, try:
2.) It develops background knowledge.
Did you know that the oldest person to ever learn to read was a 116? Did you know the first thesaurus was printed in 1852? Did you know the Super-Soaker water gun was invented completely by accident by a rocket scientist?
I knew every single one. And so would my students. And we learned it all from picture books!
Picture books are the cornerstone of my teaching. I use them all the time to teach virtually every skill covered in 7th grade ELA. We sit on the carpet (that’s just my choice… it’s not required lol!). I read aloud and show the kids the pictures. We discuss, ask questions, and Google stuff to learn more.
While I choose the books for their ability to demonstrate a particular ELA skill, I also never take for granted the information the kids learn about the world from our reading. All this information creates a healthy “background knowledge backpack” whose benefits will last a student their lifetime. It is, as ReLeah Cossett Lent calls in her book Overcoming Textbook Fatigue (2012) “the glue that makes learning stick.”
You can read more about the benefits of background knowledge…
3.) It brings joy.
Does this even need more explanation? Or further discussion? Well, just in case, here ya go!
I do hope that if you are not one to read aloud to your big kids, this post has encouraged you to give it try. And, if you are challenged by admin on your rationale for doing so, you feel a bit more empowered to stick up for yourselves.
Do you read aloud to your kids? What are some of your favorite stories to share? Go find me on FB or IG and let me know 🙂