Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Picking out books for teachers to read out loud to their classes is something I enjoy doing. In fact, if I could get a job recommending books to others, I would like that, too. Reading to groups of students is one of the best perks of my current job, and one thing I still miss doing in the classroom setting. I read a lot of picture books to groups I see now, but not chapter books. I tried that a few times, but since there is a week in between when I see groups I would forget where we were, or they would argue about what we had read, or we would spend our whole class reading and rushing through the lesson I had planned... So I have left the joy of reading chapter books to the classroom teachers. I hate to be pushy and tell them what to read since I always like to pick out my own read alouds, but if a teacher asks for a recommendation I am all over it. Yesterday I had a fifth grade teacher come to me with that request. I sent her Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit, One Armed Catch by MJ Auch, Penny from Heaven by Jennifer Holm, Under the Same Sky by Cynthia DeFelice, and On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer. There are so many great books I want our fifth grade to hear that I don't think they will get as much out of if they read it to themselves. Another fifth grade group is reading Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings. Last year's fifth grade class loved it and had some wonderful discussion about it. While I didn't get to be in their room during the read aloud, when they would come and see me for library I would ask which point they were at in their reading and we could tie in some aspects of the oral reading to our work in the library. In my own first grade classroom I always read Charlotte's Web and Little House in the Big Woods. I always wonder how teachers can read the same thing year after year after year, but those two staples were ones I enjoyed and I thought the kids could get into considering chapter books may be new to them. Then it depended on my group of kids. One year we read 7 of the Little House books because my kids were absolute fanatics about them. They even dressed up as pioneer girls with braids and bonnets and "played" Little House at recess. One group loved The Rats of Nimh and begged for the other two books to be read to them. All my classes enjoyed Tomie de Paola's 26 Fairmount Avenue series and every year there was another book to add on to the read aloud. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 101 Dalmations, Flat Stanley, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, some Beverly Cleary (whether it was Ramona or Ribsy or Ralph S. Mouse) was part of the mix. I know Junie B. Jones is a staple first grade read aloud and I did introduce them to her, but I didn't love Junie B and I still don't, and I really think that for first graders many can tackle her on their own at some point during first grade. Thinking of these books brings back many memories of my times reading to my class and how much fun it was when you could see them get excited about what they were reading.