That’s right. You read that title correctly. If you know my work with teachers or my work with students, you’re probably thinking the title just can’t be true.
Well, it’s true. I haven’t done our picture book read aloud in days… My students have taken over! They are now taking the initiative to bring in a picture book from the library or home to read aloud to the class nearly everyday. In fact, I’m now scheduling ahead with readers because so many fifth graders want to do the read aloud!
Why are my students taking the initiative to read aloud to the class? I suspect it’s because read aloud is just a way of life in our classroom. No rewards, points, or extra kudos are given for reading aloud. It’s just what we do. It’s just who we are. There is nothing quite like the feeling of sharing a book you love with others.
Committing to reading aloud every single day is perhaps the best promise I made to my students and even myself this school year. The simple practice of reading aloud a different picture book every single day with my class has changed us in ways that I did not even expect.
Earlier this week, I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with elementary teachers in the Los Gatos School District to share the benefits of read aloud. We spent two hours engaging in a few read alouds, discussing our thinking and ideas, sharing great books with each other, and committing/recommitting to this powerful classroom practice. It was a refreshing and invigorating way to spend the afternoon after our collective teaching days. The next day, we all walked back into our classrooms excited about the reading and discussions to come!
Here are ten of the points we discussed in depth at our session earlier this week…
1- Read aloud sets us up to model a love of reading.
2- Each read aloud provides every student in class a shared experience with every single other student in class.
3- Read Aloud provides a predictable context for laughing, thinking, and learning together.
5- Read aloud gives each of our students the opportunity to feel validated and visible when we make the commitment to ensure they are each represented in our book choices.
6- Read aloud together paired with discussion and modeling of strategies provides access to more complex texts and ideas- especially with social studies and science concepts that may be new or unfamiliar.
7- Read aloud is the perfect introduction or way to kick off independent reading for the day. Offering visibility of the decision making process that a reader goes through is a great way to teach a quick lesson before students set off to read on their own. Read aloud and talk makes the often invisible process of reading and meaning making visible.
8- Read aloud has the potential to give students leadership roles and decision making power in the classroom when teachers invite students to choose and share class read aloud books.
9- Read aloud is an instructional method that appeals to all students of all ages, from pre-kindergarten through college level learners.
10- Read aloud is a joyful and reflective part of our day everyday! Simply put, we need more joy and reflection in all of our classrooms and schools.
Let’s continue the conversation! I’d love to hear your thoughts on read aloud and chat more.
View all of our classroom read alouds so far this year here…
Today was our 40th day of school. After lunch, I read aloud our 40th picture book of the year. During that read aloud, it dawned on me that we were having natural conversation about the book during reading. I didn’t plan it out, prepare questions, or come in with learning targets or goals. I didn’t even ask my students to stop and jot, turn and talk, or to raise their hands. I simply started reading a wonderful book, and the rest took care of itself. But, this certainly didn’t happen overnight.
When you read a book aloud every single day with your class, this is what happens. A community of readers is fostered and continues to grow. When you take the time to seek out books for students to see themselves and then see others they may not meet in their daily lives, a community of thoughtful, kind, young citizens flourishes!
When I think about the simple things in my classroom that created our community of readers, I have to say there really is not one exact thing, but all other things are supported by the fact that we take the time to share a story together every single day. We do this no matter what- no matter the interruption, assembly, unexpected emergency drill, you name it. We read aloud every single day.
In today’s story, we looked out the metaphorical window into someone else’s life. We learned how stories shaped her life. We related to her through the power of books, love, and recognizing that we are all human beings who come from somewhere else with stories to share. We developed a bit of empathy for others in our community and around the country. It was beautiful.
Our community of readers was created because…
We shared stories… everyday.
We ditched the reading log and worksheets.
We started conversations.
We recommended impactful stories to each other.
We wrote our own stories.
We created meaning together.
We laughed together,
teared up together,
and even questioned together.
We shared stories… everyday.
Thank you to Jillian Heise, Donalyn Miller, and my 5th grade colleague Jennifer Ford for the inspiration to share stories everyday. Thank you to Yuyi Morales for sharing your story with us today in my 5th grade classroom. We are different people because of your story.
Friends, I encourage you to share stories with your classes and families as well. It changes everything.
“Maggie is so excited about how much you read out loud with the class everyday!”
After hearing this from a parent at our Back to School Night last week, my commitment to classroom book a day was solidified. We now have 14 days of fifth grade behind us along with 14 picture books that have helped us cultivate our community of readers through read aloud. 14 shared experiences through books. 14 ways our community of readers can now connect with each other. 14 commonalities. This number will continue to grow for every single new day and new book of the school year.
After each read aloud is completed, we house our books in the Books Read Together bin in the classroom library. As time goes on, I imagine the bin turning into a shelf. Each day during independent reading time, I’ve seen many of our Classroom Book a Day read alouds bring reread and discussed. One of the most beautiful things about a shared classroom read aloud experience is that the book lives on and on long after the time spent reading together is finished.
In addition to keeping our books in a classroom library book bin for constant access, we also have a digital display. To make our Classroom Book a Day collection visible to students and their families alike, my fifth graders and I created this Padlet. The Padlet will reflect the continually growing collection of shared reads.
(scroll back/forth and up/down to see every book)
I’d love to know how you’re sharing your classroom read alouds… bulletin board, digital display, basket in the library, something else? We’re all so excited about the possibilities to come for this year’s Classroom Book a Day commitment. I can’t wait to see where this takes my readers!
“As the year progresses, read aloud becomes the bedrock foundation of who you are and where you’ve traveled together as a reading community. It becomes your history and the collection of stories and experiences that you come back to and draw on throughout the days, the weeks, and the months ahead.” –Yates & Nosek
Inspired by my friend and colleague, Jennifer Ford, who was inspired by Jillian Heise, who was inspired by Donalyn Miller… I am taking on Classroom Book a Day and am blogging about it! I shared this goal with my 5th graders today, and they were just thrilled. So far, we are five days in to our school year, and we are right on track.
My plan is not to do a separate blog post about each book (there is no way possible I could keep up with that as a full time classroom teacher, writer, and person trying to live a balanced life outside of school). However, I will periodically post all the books we’ve read for our Classroom Book a Day in one post- I imagine every couple weeks or so.
Here’s what we’ve shared together as a reading community so far…
First Day of School
On the first day of school, we read The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi- a wonderful story about how our names shape us and partially help form our identities.
Then, we read ish by Peter Reynolds- a heartwarming book about so many wonderful things. Out of the mouth of a fifth grader today- “We’re all a little bit -ish all the time with different things, and that’s ok!”
We followed up ish with Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson- You know a book is great when the class applauds at the end and can’t stop talking about it! It also kicked off our identity conversation- we are all more than one story, and we are all more than what may appear to others. Highly recommend this book for all ages- even adults!
This past Friday, we shared the book Most People by Michael Leannah… A great conversation was had about appearances and perceptions. Another great read for all ages.
Today’s book was was a beautiful story from Katrina Goldsaito: The Sound of Silence. It sparked a wonderful discussion about presence and appreciating the moments we’re in. Sometimes what we’re looking for is within us the whole time.
What books are you sharing with your class? I’d love to learn more!