Penguins, God, Spectacles, the Atlas, and Reading Aloud.

The classroom was dark except for a few strings of twinkling lights.  It was time for chapter reading before rest time.  We started a new chapter reading book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins.  Day one is always thrilling, and I show children the cover before reading.

We read the first chapter with great interest and discussion.  Then, we began to read chapter two.  As soon as I read the title, The Voice in the Air, Allie said, “Is that God?  He’s in the air, you know.”

I stopped.  Everybody stopped.  I smiled the biggest smile in the whole wide world at Allie.  Words can fill a vessel.  Allie’s words filled mine.

I said, “Let’s read and find out.”

Spontaneously, Noah said, “Jennie, I love you.”  When children say that on their own, they have felt a great moment of being covered in a warm blanket.  I knew Noah felt so good that he had to tell me.  I also knew that his feelings started with chapter reading.  He was really saying “Thank you for reading to me.  I love this story.  I feel good when I’m on my nap mat and you read aloud.  I like what Allie said.”  I think there was probably more in his heart.  Children don’t have the words that adults do.  Noah’s words spoke volumes.

As I read the chapter aloud, the words said Mr. Popper put on his spectacles.  Spectacles.  Every new and different word opens a whole conversation.  That is the power and beauty of reading aloud, where there are no pictures.  Every word becomes crystal clear and drives the mind, and also the heart.

Penguins.  That drove a big conversation, especially when we learned about pushing off the cliff and sea leopards.  Reality and survival are not easy topics to teach children.  Thank goodness there have been a host of writers who have put into words life and goodness and struggle.  Thank goodness for books and chapter reading.  It’s my yellow brick road for children.

I knew as soon as we talked about Antarctica that children needed and wanted to see the South Pole in the context of the world.  I promised I would show them the picture from our Big Book Atlas.

I always show children any pictures in the book after we finish reading.  As I did so, Noah belted out, “Jennie, you forgot ‘In the great green room’!  He was right.  And he was talking about Goodnight Moon.  I recite that book every day before chapter reading.  I was so excited about starting a new book and showing the cover that I’d forgotten to recite Goodnight Moon.

Noah had not forgotten.

After rest time I pulled out our favorite big map book so we could see Antarctica.  Oh, how we loved exploring.  This is what happens when children ask questions and wonder.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in books, chapter reading, children's books, Early Education, Imagination, Learning About the World, Teaching young children, wonder and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Penguins, God, Spectacles, the Atlas, and Reading Aloud.

  1. You are such a wonderful teacher. I’m even learning so much from you. 😉

  2. Love curiosity of a child. Just priceless. 🙂

  3. Darlene says:

    Reading out loud prompts many questions. And questions are good. So sad that in the past some children were not encouraged to ask questions and grew up lacking communication skills.

  4. beetleypete says:

    That took me back to my love of maps beginning at school. Always keen to discover where the place was that we were learning about, I developed a fascination with maps that has endured to this day.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad it did that, Pete. I love maps, too. Children in my class adore spending time exploring my big book atlas. Often, stories I read trigger something far away, so we use the book often. Geography at its best.

  5. What a heartwarming post, Jennie! I’m so glad you shared. Have a thriving Thursday!

  6. Opher says:

    That is so sweet. Well done you. It shows the warmth you generate.

  7. Dan Antion says:

    This post really shows how much you care about these children. I still say, we need more teacher like you.

  8. Pulling out that map while in the moment is great – also because it seems you have a way of doing added spontaneousness into the teaching without disrupting the ‘order’….(make sense?)

  9. livinj says:

    How lovely and sweet. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  10. Such a sweet post, Jennie! 😄

  11. John Fioravanti says:

    Delightful, Jennie – you have such rapport with these kids!

  12. Jennie, it is not everyone who inspires children to tell them they love them. You are a most extraordinary teacher and you invest a huge amount of yourself in these very lucky children.

  13. Another great peek at your awesome story times. Kids say the best things. 🙂 And in relation to your ‘next’ post, I love how you pull out your big atlas rather than pulling up a map on the web.

  14. swamiyesudas says:

    Hello, Jennie, Hope, Wish and Pray Your kind of Teaching reaches India. Here it is all by rote, and getting children to pass exams; which they do, without Knowing anything, including writing their own names correctly.

    Keep up Your good and great work. Much Love and Regards. Yesudas. 🙂

  15. Atmosfere Handmade Gifts says:

    Very interesting post!

  16. Reblogged this on Notes from An Alien and commented:
    What a lovely re-blog today…

    My big takeaway was:
    “Reality and survival are not easy topics to teach children. Thank goodness there have been a host of writers who have put into words life and goodness and struggle.”

    I’m sure you’ll have a takeaway of your own 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s