Reflections on Read Aloud

This summer, I read The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child and was inspired to change my entire reading block.  I loved every word that was written and found myself nodding in agreement page after page.   As I began this school year, I was determined to have a "Book Whisperer" classroom.

Then the year began.

And I went back to my old ways.

Now, part of this is due to the fact that I was really only in my class for 4 weeks before my little one was born.  But the other part was due to my own ingrained habits.  Old habits are hard to break!

So instead of going all in, I decided to make small changes.  I can do small changes.  The small change came with my read aloud.

I have always read aloud to the kids, however, if something needed to "go" for whatever reason, it was always that.  I decided that my read aloud time would be a sacred time in the class this year.  That it would be something that we would never not do.  So I had to get it woven into my daily schedule so seamlessly that it couldn't be forgotten.  It is now part of our clean up routine at the end of the day.  Kids clean up, come to the rug, we read.  Done and done.

And I have to tell class excites me so much now.  We have read some books that are rather heavy and difficult.  The Giver .  Among the Hidden (Shadow Children #1) Among the Impostors (Shadow Children #2) (the kids wouldn't let me stop at just the first book in the series ;))  The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread .  I know that these are books that the kids would have passed up in the library.  Yet each of these books has illicit a response from the kids that would make any teacher's heart smile.

If you follow me on Facebook, you know how much I talk about the books we are reading.  I just LOVE the feeling I get when I walk to my line in the morning and the kids greet me with questions or predictions or inferences they have made about the reading from the day before.  My students beg me to read more when I stop at the end of a chapter.  They check the books we are reading out of the library so that they can read ahead.

What's even better is that the kids aren't just checking out Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Dork Diaries from the library anymore.  They look at the Newberry winner list and check out books from there.  They have learned that just because a book doesn't grab you within the first 4 pages, doesn't mean it isn't worth taking the time to read.  The Giver didn't get us until about 2/3 of the way through.  But once we were hooked, it was all we could do not to keep reading every minute of every day.  I remember vividly the moment Among the Hidden got us.  Page 40.  Every pair of eyes was staring at me as I read the last line in the chapter, then begging me to keep reading (which, of course, I didn't....gotta build up the suspense ;))

I know that this year I have created lifelong readers out of these students, which was the ultimate goal of The Book Whisperer in the end anyway.  While I didn't make major changes in my room, I am taking baby steps.  And those baby steps are working.  As one of my students said, when I was "convinced" by my class to read just one more chapter of our book, "Mrs. M is the BEST teacher ever!"  Just for reading aloud.  What could be better than that??


  1. I enjoyed this blog post very much!

  2. I love reading aloud to my students for the same reason you mentioned: I can introduce them to books they would otherwise not read. This is especially helpful for my reluctant readers because I always keep them in mind when choosing a text. I like to select stories that are a little edgy so they capture the attention of those hard-to-reach kiddos. Glad it's working out so well for you!

  3. I really wish I had done more of this during the year. BUT - I am going to do more of it now! Starting next week I am going to start a read aloud with the class. I'm excited! =) Thanks for the gentle nudge in the right direction!

  4. Donalyn Miller is brilliant. I am working on reading her next book.
    Chickadee Jubilee

  5. I loved reading her book, I saw she has a new book out, maybe a summer book study??? I hear you about read alouds being the first to go, I never thought about ending the day this way, good for you :)
    First Grade Dual

  6. I haven't read The Book Whisperer, but my favorite part of the day has always been my read aloud time with them! Unfortunately, this year that has been the thing to go because of so many other "necessities" I loved your matter what I will keep that time and let something else go starting tomorrow! :)

  7. Stephanie, I've come to the same realization. I am actually in the process of reading "The Read-Aloud Handbook."

    If you are ever interested, you may check out the website It's a program that bases reading instruction on novel read-alouds.


  8. I love reading aloud to my class; that has always been my favorite part of teaching- sharing great books with my students. When I taught 6th grade, I always read them _The Giver_, and I still read in to my 6th grade reading club because it is so wonderful. I was lucky enough to help organize an event where I live in which Lois Lowry came and did and did a speaking engagement. She stayed to sign books, too. I had students from years before who heard about it and came to hear her speak because they loved the book so much. It is amazing what a good book can do! (That was such a highlight for me; I got to introduce her and then go to dinner with her, as well. Amazing experience!)
    I'm loving your blog; so glad I found it!

  9. I am a huge fan of Donalyn Miller. Her book is amazing. I have read aloud The One and Only Ivan, Among the Hidden, and The City of Ember to my kids this year. We love our reading time. They get so into it. I love hearing, "Yes!" when I say grab your book! So many of them are continuing to read the Among the Hidden series and they are begging me to read The People of Sparks (the second book after the City of Ember). I will be doing it again next year. Thank you for posting about your experience. You very eloquently said how I have been feeling this year. :)
    Simply 2nd Resources

  10. Read aloud is one of my favorite times of the day. It is such a great time to bond with students over the love of a great book. This is where we have some of our best discussions.

    Fit to be Fourth

  11. Try the Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins. I have former third graders come back years later and ask which book I am on in the series. Another good one that proves titles can fool you is The Doll People by Ann Martin. My boys are huge fans of this three book series. I NEVER skip read aloud time. I use it as mini lessons on vocab, etc. We also do so much talking about the books while we read. With using so many leveled books in our district we can never discuss the same story. You would never go to a movie and not leave without talking endlessly about it with the ones you went to see it with..Frozen comes to mind! Why in the world would you read together and not have endless discussions about the book? We do a read aloud for almost 30 minutes every day. And my third graders ask for more. MAKE TIME for it, it's the best thing EVER!


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