Friday, August 03, 2007

Art form: Reading-Aloud

Local Houston Chronicle columnist and celebrity gourmand, Ken Hoffman, has been invited to read at a Reading is Fundamental event. In yesterday's column he recounted a past experience
The book they gave me to read was And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, by Dr. Seuss.I knew about the book, but I had never read it.

He also included the books he will be reading this weekend. They are all based on major television franchises, Scholastic is sponsoring which is nice but otherwise...yikes.

Hoffman is looking forward to it and he is a funny guy so he will have fun with Scooby Doo but I thought, these books would not be my pick for read alouds. (I was handed Berenstain Bears Don't Pollute to read while subbing one time and I actually asked, "Do I have to?" The organizers looked askance but let me substitute A Tree Called Steve.)

My advice and rules for newbie read-alouders

1. You HAVE to like the book you are going to read.
2. Read the book before hand
3. Try to have the kids "below" you. If you are sitting in a chair, get them on the floor. If they are in chairs, stand. Maybe this is just me but I like to be at a "commanding" elevation if possible.
4. Know what kind of time frame you are expected to fill.
5. Make eye contact with your listeners while you are reading.
6. Have fun! If you are not enjoying yourself, no one else will.

This may not be the best time to do an all-call because folks are still on vacation but school is starting soon. So, what are your "all-time-favorite-go-to-I've-really-read-it-to-a GROUP-of-kids-and-it-is-a-solid-hit-every-time" read-alouds?

Do you have any other hints for readers?

Books are personal, not all books appeal or work for all read-alouders but what book(s) would you hand a read-aloud newbie with confidence?

A smattering of some of my favorites:

Picture books:

Snip Snap!: What's That? by Mara Bergman, illustrated by Nick Maland (fantastic and scary, kids love it)
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems (anything by Mo Willems)
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (classic, kids never ever tire of it no matter what age they are)
Duck for President by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin (brilliant for election season)
Down Girl and Sit: Smarter than Squirrels by Lucy Nolan and Mike Reed (a must for any dog person)
No, David! by David Shannon (the picture of David running down the street gets them every time -- also a good choice to give a student who has to read to a class--he/she will be successful even if they are not a strong reader)
My Dog, My Hero by Betsy Cromer Byars, Betsy Duffey, Laurie Myers, illustrated by Loren Long (they will be begging you to read one more chapter--they are short chapters)
Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley and G. Brian Karas (cowboy story, brush off your Texas twang and have fun)


The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread, chapter 1
and of course...The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, chapter 1

More please?


Anonymous said...

When my son was in preschool, his class liked "Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza)," by Philemon Sturges. It's a fun one to read aloud. My husband took along ingredients and made English-muffin pizzas with the 4 year olds after reading the book.

Jr.'s kindergarten class liked Dav Pilkey's "Moonglow Roll O Rama," and first grade was really into "Abuela," by Arthur Dorros when I read it.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty new, but I read it five times one week and it went over very, very well: I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry.

AMY T said...

I think reading books with a class of students that are you full time charges is a little bit different. I've rarely had a student get into The Birchbark House on their own, but most of them love it when they read along with me. A few other favorites: Number the Stars, Bud Not Buddy, There's A Boy in the Girl's Bathroom, and Thunder Rose.

MotherReader said...

Great advice and good book suggestions. I also like Sweet Tooth by Palatini for 1st/2nd and even third grade. Best if you're ready to do some voices. I had great success with Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich for 4th and 5th grade. As a guest reader, it's hard to 3rd and up without doing a whole book - which you don't have time to finish. I look for older age picture books that they may have missed, short story collections, and poetry. Funny if possible or with suspense, otherwise.

onebadscrivener said...

I teach high-schoolers, and I tell my students at the beginning of every year that they have to re-learn how to be read-aloud to. We start off with just five- or ten-minute sessions, then work our way up to twenty or thirty minutes at a time. Within a few weeks, they're usually begging me not to stop.

For most of my career, my "money" book was Robert Lipsyte's One Fat Summer. I like that my students respond so well to it, because it is more introspective than narrative. It would be easy to read them something a little more action-packed, but I find it encouraging that my students can learn to listen to something like this instead.

I've gotten great responses from students in all grades from seven through twelve, except for sophomores! I don't know if it was this particular group of sophomores last year, or if it's the grade-level, but the sophs just wouldn't get into it.

I've also found some success (just not quite as universal) with Lloyd Alexander's The Book of Three and Ron Koertge's The Harmony Arms.

I've taught oral interpretation classes, and for encouraging students to read aloud to other students, I've had a blast with Elbert's Bad Word, Double Trouble in Walla Walla, and Daniel Pinkwater's Young Larry.

Saints and Spinners said...

I love Snip-Snap as a read-aloud. Here are some other favorites:

-Zzzng! Zzzng! Zzzng! A Yoruba Folktale, by Phyllis Gershator.

-Saving Sweetness, by Diane Stanley

-Would You Rather..., by John Burningham

-Bootsie Barker Bites, by Barbara Bottner

Camille said...

These are terrific! Thank you!

Megan Germano said...

I just wrote about this same thing on my blog! :D
My very favorite, never miss, #1 is The Watson's go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis.
Only in a very slight second place, but always enjoyed just as much, Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen.
This two books have brought me to the "Read Aloud Hall of Fame" in the eyes of my fifth grade students. Here is my post

Sherry said...

The Important Book by margaret Wise Brown

Rain Makes Applesauce by Scheer and ??? (Can't remember right now)

Both of these have students wanting to make up their own additions to the text.