Read Alouds: Every Day, Every Student by Lucretia Brattin
The importance of reading aloud to every grade level is imperative. And, it should most definitely be an everyday occurrence. This duty does not have be fulfilled by the Language Arts teachers. How awesome is it for the science teacher to read an article from National Geographic or the history teacher to read an article from The Smithsonian. Better yet, what if they chose popular books from their respective studies and read a section every day. I can just imagine our history teacher, who is also the speech and debate coach, reading excerpts from Ron Chernow’s Grant.
Making reading seem like the most important element of a class, no matter what the class, is the key to creating successful adults. I truly believe that. Even in math, if a student can’t read the directions or understand what the vocabulary is, there is no chance to actually do the math. Vocabulary is built by adults reading to students and stopping to explain and point out words and building that background knowledge so that success can occur. We as teachers learned long ago to model things. We model multiplication problems and science experiments. Why do we think it is only a first grade teacher’s responsibility to model reading?
In today’s classroom the pressure to test and to push as much information at students as possible in any given 50 minutes is the daunting task teachers face each day. But, what if, once a day we just stop and say, “Let’s share a book.” We have had programs in the past that promoted this. Who remembers, or still does D.E.A.R? Drop everything and read is a prescribed set time each day that students and teachers stop and read. What I’m hoping for is something that happens organically, not the last 15 minutes of each day.
Teachers are funny, emotional, sometimes upset creatures. And, we can share those emotions safely when we read to our students. Words, even when fiction, affect us. We can build relationships with our students by expressing emotions in a safe manner while reading a book. The best example of this that I have was the day that I read a sad part of Wonder by RJ Palacio. I don’t want to give away anything but needless to say there was a dog and there was death. As I sat there reading this part to my 5th graders, I could tell the tears were going to come; and not just the slow slide that you can sometimes hide, but the ugly tears. Finally, when I could go no further, I held the book up in front of my face and I stopped. One of my students came over, put his hand on my shoulder and took the book from me and said, “I’ll finish the chapter, Mrs. Brattin.” I will never forget that instance of humanity showed to me by a student. I hope he doesn’t either.
That example of me being a human being and letting my students know that even though I am mostly a happy go lucky person, I can still be affected by words, was powerful. We teach our children that words are powerful. Shouldn’t we be the testament for that?
Lucretia Brattin is a K-12 Librarian in the Missouri Ozarks. Over her 24 year career, she has taught 1st grade, 4th grade, Junior High English and High School English. She brings this experience of multiple grade levels with her to the library. Lucretia blogs about books, teaching and other things at mrsbrattinreadsandwrites.blogspot.com and she can be found on Twitter @LucretiaBrattin.