Friday, February 20, 2009

Getting Paid to Read

I'm relatively sure nobody checks the "Recently Read Books" section of this blog, so you will not have noticed that I just finished two classics: The BFG and Shiloh Season. One of the perks of my job is that I get paid to read aloud, and I love reading aloud. (In fact, I'm pretty sure my first vlog is going to be me reading from Sophomore Undercover, which, by the way, goes on sale in just four short days!) I probably read twenty-five books a year to my third graders. We have a twenty minute period each morning set aside for two things: snacks and books. They eat. I read to them. We don't discuss theme. We don't analyze. I don't even check to make sure they're listening. It's a just a chance for them to relax and realize that books can be fun. It's easily my favorite part of the day.

I do this for six reasons:

1. I want to.
2. Students need to enjoy books before they'll want to read them on their own.
3. It's a way to build a common knowledge base.
4. I use the novels to illustrate writing techniques. (During writing, if we're studying leads, I'll pull down Because of Winn-Dixie and, since students are familiar with the text, it's easier to look at technique and to name exactly what the author has done.)
5. There are lots of awesome books they might otherwise never read.
6. When I was in elementary school, my librarian read aloud James and the Giant Peach and it was the highlight of my elementary career. (It is also just about the only thing I remember from those formative years. In school, that is. I mean, I remember lots about the 1984 World Series and can quote lines from Star Wars or The Natural all the livelong day.)

So far this year I've read some Judy Blume (three of the Fudge books), Roald Dahl (Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Twits, The BFG), The Tale of Despereaux and Because of Winn-Dixie (And I'm reading Edward Tulane right now. Tiger Rising to come.), all three Shiloh books, Skinnybones (which I think is hilarious, but a lot of it goes right over my students' heads), There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom, and Charlotte's Web.

I've got Frindle and Tiger Rising waiting on the shelf, but I'm always looking for suggestions.
What are some of your favorites? Any books you remember from your third/fourth grade years? Any books you think all kids should definitely experience?


Unknown said...

I taught 4th Grade for seven years. Couldn't agree more with you about reading aloud. It is the best method for young students to pick up sentence structure, vocabulary, and just plain ole situational/character conflict, amongst other things. I miss reading aloud. Now that I teach middle school, I don't get that opportunity. Here are my favorites:

1. The Whipping Boy (short and sweet), by Sid Fleischman
2. By the Great Horn Spoon, by Sid Fleischman
3. The Trolls, by Polly Horvath
4. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, by Kimberly Willis Holt
5. Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen
6. Joey Pigza Lose Control - entire series is a riot in the classroom

These too would totally work as read alouds in 3rd:
1. Keeping Score, by Linda Sue Park
2. The Willoughbys, by Lois Lowry
3. A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park

By the way, and not to suggest censorship, but you are brave to read The Tiger Rising in 3rd Grade. How did that play out? Just curious. Haven't read it in while but vaguely remember some touchy issues there. Maybe I'm wrong.

What do you read in class as part of your curriculum?

Hope this helps!

Lily Cate said...

That's so great!
My fourth grade teacher (Mrs. Johnson) read us the entire Chronicles of Narnia. It took all year.

I just finished reading Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo
and Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow.
Those might be fun.

Christina Farley said...

That is great that you're reading so much. I've found it really makes a difference for me in my writing and it's interesting to see how different writers take the same situation so differently.

Kelly Polark said...

I used to read aloud during snack time too when I taught. It is such a nice, restful time, and the kids were so interested! They always love the Judy Blume Fudge books. I read The Whipping Boy and Hatchet aloud as well. I remember reading a book about paper cranes (why can't I remember the title) and it was a sad part and I was crying and couldn't read it! A kid finished the page for me!

Anita said...

You'd have to read it yourself first, to see if it would work with your students, but I looove THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY.

Also, I read the Hermux Tantamoq series aloud at home. I called him "Herm" for short.

Unknown said...

Tracy---yeah, those are good reasons too. Love Zachary Beaver, Hatchet (which I can't read because the fourth grade has claimed it) and the Joey Pigza books. The kids loved Joey too. Maybe a little too much. My Pigza books all came up missing during the year I read them aloud. We don't really do much novel reading for curriculum. The kids are broken into groups based on their levels and they read at their level which means we usually read texts we can finish in a 30 minute time period.

Lily--thanks for the recommendations.

Kelly--Sadako and the Paper Cranes?

Anita--I've read Higher Power. I didn't love it but it would make for a good read aloud. It's fun to read first person POV when the character has such a distinctive voice.

Thanks, all.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Henshaw was always one of my favorites.