Reading-aloud is emotional in my classroom. Thank goodness! I belt it out, read with a voice, and stop to talk. I cry and laugh, and so do the children. How best can children learn all that is really important? With every picture story and chapter book I read I have a racing heart, because I have to read the words just like they were written by the author- with passion.
When I read Charlotte’s Web, children are drawn into every emotion; worried, sad, curious and more. I am, too. They love this book because it hits the heart.
Hits the heart. That is the most fundamental component of character building. And character– the development of goodness and kindness, doing what is right, being brave and true and selfless– is far more important than learning letters and numbers when children are young. I do this with reading-aloud.
Children become the characters in books and take on the emotions that come with it. Emotional reading is the real teacher, and children become authentic learners. When that happens, it sticks. Sydney is proof:
She chose to read Charlotte’s Web to her baby dolls.
Often it sticks like glue for years, even decades. Lucca is three-years-old and she is read to every night. I discovered her parents were, too. When her father came into the classroom and spotted Gregory the Terrible Eater, he asked, “Did you read that book?” “Yes”, I said. He picked up the book, lovingly touching the cover and said, “Really! My mother read that book to me all the time when I was growing up. I loved that book.”
Lucca’s dad: Look at that big smile!
Emotional reading gives important and everlasting gifts. I often speak about how the number of words a child hears is directly attributed to academic success. When those words are from good literature and have the power to bring children into every character, then they’re learning heart, not just words. I will forever cry out loud when I read about Jack the dog crossing the creek in Little House on the Prairie. I will forever laugh out loud when I read Mother Bruce. I will forever be scared and angry for the baby dragon in My Father’s Dragon. I don’t just read words, I read the voice within those words. Collectively we stop to talk and question. We learn about humanity.
That is why emotional reading comes first.