When I first started teaching fourth grade, we had a scheduled time to read aloud to the students and honestly that was my favorite time of the day. I would turn the lights off, turn the lamp on and sit in the rocking chair while I read to them. I made it through several books that year. Then because there just isn't enough time in the school day, it got cut. I was able to do it sporadically but it just wasn't to my satisfaction.
Here are a few reasons why I think it is important to do read aloud at any age (these are all based on my personal opinion and not necessary backed up by research):
- Allows students to hear what a fluent reader sounds like
- Modeling is such a huge piece in student's learning. If a student isn't read to at home and they only hear their classmates read, they may never hear what a fluent reader is supposed to sound like.
- Exposes them to books they wouldn't read on their own
- Once again, I feel like this helps the lower reader tremendously. If a student is reading at a lower level, they are missing out on some grade level appropriate content.
- All students benefit from this because often students will get stuck with only one type of book (sports, animal, vampires etc.) and once again miss out on some great literature.
- Sometimes it is just nice to sit and listen to someone read to you
- I like this as an adult and wish I could experience it more often
- It builds community
- One great thing about read aloud is the discussion that can come with it. During this time students have to learn to listen to each other and to respect other's ideas and opinions.
- It makes memories
- This point is probably my favorite. When I was in first grade, my teacher read to us every day during our milk time. She read James and the Giant Peach, Stuart Little (per my request), Indian in the Cupboard and there may have been more, but I remember those the most. I remember getting lost in the story and how much I enjoy it. Now 24 years later, I still remember it.
- Now that I am the teacher, I have students come back to me with comments about the books I have read to them. Every year I read Where the Red Fern Grows to my class, no matter what. Every year an upper class man always asks if I still am reading this book to my class.
- Shows students it is ok to have emotion
- Up until this point, many students have never read a book that has made them feel anything. They are just books and stories to them and they may get enjoyment from them, but haven't really connected to it. Isn't that one of the big reasons to read? While reading Where the Red Fern Grows, I cry. I cry like a baby, long before the sad part even happens. I am ok with this. It shows the students that it is ok to cry at a book. It is ok to show emotion and that a book caused that emotion.
I am sure there is more to come on this adventure I am about to take my students on.
What about you? Do you remember your teachers reading out loud to you? What books did they read?