The best part of my day as a teacher, and the most important part, is reading aloud to children. I read picture books at least twice a day and a chapter book every day. I always become moved and emotionally charged when I read aloud.
Let me tell you, I teach the core of all that’s really important through reading aloud. Remember Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten? My classroom reading reflects those same principals, and more. All that my students need to know they learn through my read-aloud. The things that matter the most are often the little things, and those little things are the building blocks for big things. They are also the foundation of really good books. The thread of what is important is woven into the best fiction. And, a good book = pleasure + learning. In the words of Eric Hoffer, “The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people. The truly human society is a learning society, where grandparents, parents, and children are students together”.
The pleasure of reading never gets old. Every time I read aloud I have a captive audience. We often stop, because ‘something’ has happened and we need to talk about that. “Jennie, are Indians bad?” (from Little House on the Prairie), or “What is a freezing plant?” (from Mr. Popper’s Penguins) are typical questions. These moments are just as exciting as the book, and an opportunity to teach math, art, or science, as well as goodness! Together we are shaping the value system and discovering something new. A good book = pleasure + learning, every time.
I love discovering a new book, and I just found A House in the Woods, by Inga Moore. It is the perfect picture book, with illustrations that bring the story to life. I have read this book at least a dozen times, and lovingly admired the illustrations (the moose has stolen my heart). Here is what Jim Trelease says about this book in The Read-Aloud Handbook, a million copy best seller that includes all the best books: “If there were a single book that could embody pure happiness, it would this volume. There is no great plot here – just a group of woodland animals sharing the work of building a warm house in the woods. No calamities to overcome, no bickering, no tears; just working, sharing, creating, and peanut butter sandwiches as reward. And how does this add up to to one of the most comforting and beautifully illustrated bedtime stories ever written? Read it and see.”
Used by permission of the author, Jim Trelease, 2013, The Read-Aloud Handbook (Penguin).
I think he is spot on. His best selling book is a Pandora’s Box for teachers, parents, and grandparents. Really.
I will always champion for reading aloud, because it works as the core of learning.