This week, our class finished LARGER-THAN-LIFE LARA by Dandi Daley Mackall as our second read aloud. I was a little bit worried. I had read aloud CASTLE IN THE ATTIC as our first read aloud and the kids were glued to every page. I knew LARGER THAN LIFE LARA was a great book, but I was worried that it was too serious after the fun fantasy that we had just finished.
Well, the experience was one of the best read alouds I have done. I am not sure what it was about the book, but reading it to kids was a whole different experience than reading it on my own.
If you have read the book, you know that there is a lot to talk about, a lot to think about, and a lot to be sad about. There is no happy ending. It is satisfying, but not happy. And I think the kids were surprised about that.
The author does an interesting thing throughout the book--connecting the story to the actual elements in a story. It made for a tricky read aloud and some of it was missed by lots of the kids but it was well worth it for the thinking that came from the book.
I have read aloud sad books before but they are usually about a pet dying or something. This sadness was a little bit different. I can't explain the feel in the room when we read the last two chapters. We had good, long talks about how good fiction makes you feel like the characters do and it sometimes helps you understand people in your real life better.
It was a great read. I have decided on something short and light for this week and am pondering a book for next week. I was thinking about EMMY AND THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING RAT but I'd love to find something with the kind of depth that this last one had--short with lots to talk and think about. This one was a depth that was perfect for 8-10 year olds.