Nothing quite ignites the fire within a reading community more than daily read alouds and book talks. These two practices will not only build your classroom community of readers, but they will also work together to ignite a love of reading in your students.
More on Read Alouds
Reading aloud with students is quite possibly my favorite time of our school day. Every read aloud is an opportunity for students build yet another connection with me and each other. Each new read aloud is a shared experience that we all now have in common. While read alouds can be instructional, my absolute favorite for community building are read alouds just for the sake of sharing a story together. Maria Walther offers a reminder that, “First and foremost, a read aloud should be a joyful celebration.” (Ramped Up Read Aloud, pg. 1). I wholeheartedly agree.
To read aloud with students, simply choose a book, gather students in the meeting area of the classroom, and read! If you’re interested in planning more in-depth read alouds and interactive/instructional read alouds in the classroom, chapter 3 of Answers to Your Biggest Questions About Teaching Elementary Reading has you covered. Additionally, to learn more about which books to read, appendix E, offers a list of great sources to consult when looking for books to read aloud.
One important thing to note that I’ve learned in my 21 years as an elementary school teacher is that some books have staying power while others just don’t. If students are not enjoying it or learning from it, it’s time to let the read aloud go. Additionally, not every book is worthy of reading aloud. Weening books and being mindful of problematic titles is an important part of an elementary teacher’s job. To learn more about weeding books and spotting problematic titles, check out the work of Dr. Laura Jiménez.
More on Book Talks
Books talks are used to introduce students to a book and all that it has to offer. They do not need to be long or complicated. A book talk can be as simple as showing the cover of the book and reading the preview on the back or offering a partial summary to get readers excited about it without giving away any spoilers. I try to give one or two book talks each morning in our morning circle. Sometimes, I book talk an entire book box. I did this a couple days ago after reading aloud Kwame Alexander’s How to Read A Book. After the read aloud, I introduced my students to many of his novels in verse with a book box talk. Now, a few students are reading those books that were book talked! Eventually, the familiar procedure of book talking is turned over to students. If giving book talks is new to you, take a look at the Book Talk Teacher Tool that matches your grade level.
All posts in this blog series can be found linked here. More information and classroom tips about book talks and read alouds can be found in chapter three of Answers to Your Biggest Questions About Teaching Elementary Reading.