Children's author Rick Walton has started a blog titled Why Read Aloud? He's collecting stories about reading aloud and being read aloud to. He says, "we will figure out a way to get your stories to the administrators and teachers who need to hear them. Your story of how being read to made your life better might motivate a teacher to read to her kids and make their lives better."
Why read aloud? Because you never know if the book you choose to read aloud will become a landmark book for a student who, ten years later, will still quote from the book and count the copy you gave her as one of her most prized possessions. (Fig Pudding, by Ralph Fletcher)
Why read aloud? For the joy of sharing the hot new book you bought in a bookstore in London before it was released in the U.S.. (Matilda, by Roald Dahl)
Why read aloud? Because you could guess how rich the conversations would be, but you never could have predicted that some of your students would cry with you. (Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech)
Why read aloud? Because the torture of the first half of the book is SO worth the action and adventure of the second half. (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi)
Why read aloud? For the sheer joy of the language and the pace of the story. (Emily's Fortune, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor)
Why read aloud? Here's why:
"It is read-aloud time. The classroom is absolutely silent except for my voice and the muffled sounds of children playing on the playground that come in along with the puffs of fresh air through the open window. Some student sit with their chins propped up in a cupped hand; others lay their heads on their desks. Every student is relaxed yet alert. There is tension in the air, a simultaneous yearning for closure and for continuation. Some watch me. Others stare into space. Because they are each intently visualizing the story in their own way, the eyes of all of the students seem slightly out of focus.
My eyes are the eyes of all twenty-six students as I read the book. My voice paints the story on the canvas of twenty-six imaginations. The story can pause for a question, a comment, or a short discussion to clarify or extend meaning without the spell being broken. Even when the book is closed at the end of a chapter or the end of the book, and the room erupts into cries for more or sighs of satisfaction, the magic of read-aloud is not gone. An individual connection has been forged between me and each student via the book. Just like a parent at the edge of the bed or with the child in my lap, my voice has personally delivered the story directly to each pair of ears and each imagination. The book also creates a collective connection, bonding me and all the student together as one through the common experience of having met the same characters, gone on the same journeys, and suffered the same losses and triumphs.
Read-aloud may look like an ordinary event in a typical classroom, but it feels extraordinary when the teacher who is reading is aware of the power of the book and the importance of her role in not only reading to her students, but leading them through the book--using read-aloud as a teaching time. Not only the teacher can feel the difference, but also the students. At the end of one school year when I asked my students to reflect on our read-aloud time, Mathias captured the essence of read-aloud in our classroom when he wrote, 'It is a time when we can learn without trying.' " (Reconsidering Read-Aloud, p. 1-2)
Do you have a story about the power of read aloud, or a favorite book to read aloud to your children? Share it here, then go over and share it with Rick Walton, and then give the child on your lap or the children in your classroom the chance to "learn without trying" as you weave magic with words by reading aloud to them.