Sunday afternoons, for teachers, are often a bit of a place of limbo. It is still the weekend and there is time for relaxation and family but a little place in the back of our brains starts asking “What about Monday morning. . . ?” For me, part of the Sunday routine is often filling up my school bag with recent treasures from the library that I am excited to share with my students. Often there are more books than my schedule will allow but it is always a priority to find a place for books.
I believe that the two most powerful things I can do in my classroom each day are reading aloud to my students and providing time for them to read independently. Nothing else exposes them to new vocabulary, new ideas or new perspectives as quickly, as easily and as powerfully as a book. Reading aloud to a class pulls all of us into a magical place, an intimate learning community where words and visual images help us make meaning of our world. We discover something new. We think differently about something. We question ideas. We find support for a perspective. We are changed, often dramatically, by a few pages. Our interactions with these books shape us, constantly. How lovely that I can have this experience be part of my life daily just by reading to children?
Sometimes, it is hard to remember that not everyone shares this philosophy. In educational climates that measure student learning in test scores vs. engagement, reading aloud has no place in the everyday of classroom life. I came across this article on read aloud champion, Jim Trelease’s site. Seems impossible to imagine! More fuel to support the argument that an educational system characterized by high stake’s testing has no place in B.C.’s schools.
My copy of The Read Aloud Handbook, discovered in a used book store is probably the book, of all the books I own, that I have read and reread most often. I quote sections of it to anyone sitting near me. I shake my head as study after study and story after story is described that makes the book’s main point again and again:
Reading aloud to a child is the single most important factor in raising a reader.
And it doesn’t stop when they can read by themselves!
Why doesn’t everyone know this!??
An ode to books, to libraries, to reading. A must read for every parent and every teacher. Jim Trelease‘s website contains a lot of interesting information. But owning his book for constant reference is a must.
But back to Sunday. And my pile of books. Because it is always all about the books . . .
Books that might make their way to school with me this week:
The Purple Kangaroo is written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Peter Brown. This book is narrated by a clever monkey that asserts he can read minds – your mind, dear reader, in fact. And he is pretty sure that you are thinking about a purple kangaroo. If you weren’t thinking about a purple kangaroo, you certainly will be by the time this book is finished. One that blows rainbow bubble gum out of his nose. A delightful journey with a book that you can’t help but interact with.
I imagine some very noisy listening to this story. Possibly some shouting! A lot of giggles.
The first line of this book says so much: The skin I’m in is just a covering. It cannot tell my story.
But with this book, every line is a line to read, savour and repeat. How about this one:
Be with me inside the me of me, all made up of stories present, past, future . . .
Skin Again by Bell Hooks is brilliant. And Chris Raschka illustrates! Perfection.
My Favourite Thing (According to Alberta) is written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by AnnaLaura Cantone. This book is all about Alberta, a little girl of particular tastes. She has some very specific opinions. Her favourite ice-cream? Peppermint. Favourite vegetable? Potato chip. 🙂 And you must read to the end to find out exactly what her actual favourite thing is. This book goes on my must use as a springboard for writing list. I have big plans for this book.
I picked this book off the library shelves because it is illustrated by one of my new very favourite illustrators Peter Catalanotto. He doesn’t illustrate books, he paints amazing scenes which accompany text. Then I saw that it was written by Cynthia Rylant. This book just had to be great. An Angel for Solomon Singer did not disappoint.
A book about dreams. About yearning. About finding comfort in a big bustling city. Finding happiness when things are not really the way they ought to be.
A small treasure to inspire big discussion.
So as I move from Sunday, into Monday I take the cozy comfort of reading and books with me and keep it all through the week. It’s all about the books . . .