Come on in and read with us!

It is no secret that I love books. Books, books, everywhere you look! That is one way to describe our classroom. But the best thing about books is the readers who enjoy them. Sharing the reading experience is an important way to build a community of readers. Time exists everyday for reading and the adults who work in my classroom or visit regularly love to be part of the action.
Come on in and read with us! The top ten benefits of shared reading with adults. There's a Book for thatLucky for us, we have numerous volunteers who are a regular part of our week, spending time with us in the classroom. Often, that time involves a shared reading experience  When children and adults read together, everyone benefits – the adults, the children and the teacher (lucky me :-)). Shared reading builds community at the same time as it helps to develop reading skills and a positive attitude about literacy. There are so many benefits – here are my top ten!
1. Fluent models: Opportunity to listen to an adult read. We all know how important this is to help students become more fluent readers. When reading with an adult, there is often turn taking with a story and so the child has the opportunity to sit back and benefit from the modelling of a proficient adult reader who demonstrates the importance of phrasing, expression and enthusiasm as they read.
2. Oral Reading Practice: The students also have time to work on their own oral reading fluency. Reading aloud to an adult is wonderful practice!
Come on in and read with us! The top ten benefits of shared reading with adults. There's a Book for that
3. Enhancing conversation skills: All kinds of talking happens when sharing a book. “How about you read that page and I read this page?” “Can you help me if I get stuck on a  word?” “I’ll be Piggie and you be Gerald!” “What was your favourite part?”
4. Vocabulary Development: As stories are discussed, new words and concepts are introduced. Children are exposed to more new words through reading books than just having a casual conversation. When an adult is working one to one or with a small group, there is the opportunity to talk about unknown words or concepts that are not clear.
Come on in and read with us! The top ten benefits of shared reading with adults. There's a Book for that
5. Time for tangents: It is always wonderful when a story takes you off in a few directions, sharing stories and connections. “That reminds me of . . . ” “Did you know that I . . .?” “Have you ever . . .? ” Time reading with an adult means these important conversations can happen.
6. The gift of time: One to one attention that conveys, “You are important. I like this time we spend together. It matters.” Enough said.
Come on in and read with us! The top ten benefits of shared reading with adults. There's a Book for that
7. Bonding over books: Books are the bridge that help connections form. It is easy to share and talk about books, laugh about stories and learn new things together. As the reading and learning happens, the connections and bonding does too. Magic.
8. Pride: Positive feedback from an interested adult directly impacts the confidence and pride young readers feel about their growing skills.
 Come on in and read with us! There's a book for That
9. Making book love contagious: This happens when we share our love of reading with children. The more people sharing, the more that is shared! I am so thankful for all of the adults who help me ensure that students are catching the love of reading.
10. Reading = Enjoyment: The association of happy experiences and reading is essential if we are going to create life long readers. Not all children have had the experience of being read to by a loved one. Shared reading in the classroom with a caring adult helps students to have positive associations about books. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Come on in and read with us! The top ten benefits of shared reading with adults. There's a Book for that
 During our busy school year, I don’t always have the time to properly celebrate all of the wonderful adults who share reading time with my students. This post is my tribute to all of them. What you do means so much!
A reading community is very important in my classroom.
Other posts on this topic:

The Grandparent Effect

This post was first published on The Nerdy Book Club Blog December 14th, 2012. I am sharing it here on Christmas day as a gift to all of those who share the joy of reading with friends, family and anyone who needs it!


Two years ago, I taught a little boy named Emilio in Grade 3.  In his first week of Grade 4, Emilio showed up at my door every day at 3 p.m. He would stand there and give me a big smile, sometimes a hug and tell me quite seriously, “I really miss this class.” When I asked him what he missed, I thought he might say that he missed choices time at the end of the day or the picture books we shared together or maybe even that he missed me. Nope. “I miss Mr. and Mrs. Gelson.” He didn’t even need to think about it. Mr. and Mrs. Gelson are my parents. They come in every Tuesday afternoon to listen to my students read. They sit outside my room at a long table that holds two big baskets of carefully selected picture books. Children take turns having their reading time throughout the afternoon. This reading time with two very special volunteers is what Emilio missed.

When Emilio started Grade 3, he recognized seven letters and knew two sounds. He was not a reader. But he loved books. Every week, Mr. or Mrs. Gelson, read to Emilio. Often, once he was out in the hallway, he wouldn’t come back in. He sat and listened to other children read stories. He asked questions. He got Mr. Gelson telling him about his life and had Mrs. Gelson laughing as he asked for favourite books to be read and reread. They all giggled over silly stories, pretended to scare each other on a spooky page and shared quiet moments when a book touched their hearts. Out in my hallway, on any given Tuesday afternoon, Emilio was gifted by what I have come to call the “Grandparent Effect.

I teach at an inner city school in Vancouver, B.C. characterized by high child and family poverty. Many of my students have not had early literacy experiences. Nobody read to them at bedtime. They never attended library story times. There are few, if any, books in their homes. Families have limited income and limited time. Many parents are working multiple jobs, learning a new language and caring for a family with limited resources. Read aloud time is a luxury many families cannot afford.

Many of my students also do not have grandparents around. Grandparents live in another city or another country and visits are few and far between. I have students in my class being raised by a grandparent so their grandparent is in a parental role.  The lovely experience of story time with Grandma and Grandpa that my own children were raised with has not been experienced by most of my students.

Fortunately, I have two amazing parents who have brought their grandparent love to my classroom. They share it through the magic of books with each of my students every week. As teachers, we know that it is a rare moment when we can just sit with one child and enjoy the experience of having a story read to us by an eager little reader. We are always scanning the room to make sure others are on task, we are taking mental or physical notes about the child’s reading skills and needs, or we are thinking about which book we are going to recommend next to this child. It is hard to turn off our teacher brain. We have a job to do with these little readers. Grandparents, though, have the gift of time. The time to give to each child with their full focus and attention. The time to go off on a tangent and answer a million questions or share connections.  The time to read a story again and again just because it was that great. The time to joke and cuddle and coax and smile.

Last year, when I told Mr. and Mrs. Gelson that Emilio missed them (missed them so much, he showed up every day at my door to tell me so) they started coming in a half an hour earlier to read to Emilio, grabbing him from his new class before they began with my students. This year, in Grade 5, half an hour of reading with Mr. and Mrs. Gelson is still part of Emilio’s Tuesday routine. In these past few years at our school, Emilio has been getting daily direct instruction in decoding skills. Slowly but surely, Emilio has been learning to read. This Tuesday, Emilio read The Enormous Potato (written by Aubrey Davis) two times through. How do I know this? Two excited “grandparents” cannot stop gushing about it. “Emilio read the whole thing!” “Twice!” “He can sound out anything!” “He really perseveres.” “I just can’t believe it. He has come so far.” “Remember where he started?”  “Emilio is a reader!”

enormous potato

I do my best to promote a love of reading in my room: daily read alouds, buddy reading, book talks, library visits, reading instruction, free choice reading . . . . But, one of the best things I do is to stand back and be in awe of how the “grandparent effect” helps associate reading books with love and happy experiences. I believe if we want to create lifelong readers, anything we do to make this association is a gift we give to our students.

I have shared this story of Emilio and my other little readers to remind us all that the magic of reading shared between generations does not just need to happen in our homes. And if it never happened, it isn’t too late.  Find your students some eager seniors to come in and create your own “Grandparent Effect.” Everyone benefits.

**Emilio delivered a special card to my parents for Christmas. He gave me permission to share it here.