Last week, I found myself writing a reflection post about teaching children to read, and I am continuing with another post this week. It isn't an exaggeration to say that I find myself almost daily in conversations with colleagues and friends about teaching reading and why loving books and reading is just as important as teaching the mechanics of reading. There seems to be increasing times like this week where I found myself at a loss for words while in a conversation with a teacher and realizing that I didn't want to spend more time defending what I knew was right about helping children learn to read. I don't think that some fancy computerized program will magically create readers. I also don't believe that drill work will turn kids into readers. I do think that turning children into readers requires some intentional work, but the work is so very worth it.
If you are interested in reading the first post, The Essentials, you can find it, here. For the next several weeks, I would like to explore more deeply the following areas:
- Read Alouds
- Classroom Libraries
When I started teaching preschool and kindergarten, many years ago, I made read alouds an essential part of my curriculum. Every week, I would have one key title that I read over and over again. Each time with a different focus. At that time, I could honestly say that I did not think about whether what I was doing was an interactive read aloud or a shared read aloud. I simply read aloud to my students with intent and purpose. It seemed important that I read the same book over and over again in slightly different ways. I encouraged students to act out the story, or retell the events, use hand motions to emphasize the refrain, or join in on the words or phrases that they knew. Often by the end of the week, children could even "read" the book aloud to their friends during free play or during circle time.
In addition to one book as a focus text for the week, I also kept a small bookshelf located near our gathering place where I could display related titles to read aloud or use as a mentor texts over the course of the week or month or unit. To this day, there are still titles that I can almost recite by heart. As a result, students were exposed deeply to a small number of texts each month but also widely exposed to about 20-25 books in that same month.
Over the years, as my understanding of how children acquired language and learned to read developed so did how I used picture books as part of the daily routine. Though I was selective about titles originally, I became much, much more intentional with the books that I selected as I developed a better grasp of what purpose and skill I wanted to teach. I understood more about the power of a picture book and how I could use it to build language skills or build community. Even though, it might take more time to find that just right picture book to read aloud, I knew the time spent finding the perfect read aloud would pay off.
Finally, I want to share that for all of my planning and working to be intentional about the books I shared, I also found time to read aloud books just simply for no other reason than that they touched me in some way and I wanted to share them with my students. I say this because I want teachers to understand that there is a place for that really funny read aloud or the read aloud that might make you cry just a little even if it doesn't fit into a unit or works as a mentor text. The importance is that you read aloud with students and share your love and passion of books with them.
All journeys have a starting place.
This is a weekly place to find books and tools
that you may use with readers at the start of their reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.
Do you work with readers who are starting their journey on the road to reading? Join Michele Knott from Mrs. Knott's Book Nook and myself every Thursday as we explore books and ideas to help readers have a successful start to independent picture book and chapter book reading. If you blog or have a Goodreads page, please link up with us!