Wednesday, January 06, 2016

World Read Aloud Day -- Seven Strengths Countdown

LitWorld is counting down the weeks until World Read Aloud Day by highlighting a different strength of read aloud each week.

This week is BELONGING WEEK ("When has reading helped you feel like you belong to a community?")

In my classroom, the books I read aloud bring the class together as a community -- a truth this year in particular.

We started the year with Dan Gemeinhart's THE HONEST TRUTH (I reviewed it last year here.) When we finished, I suggested to the class that we share a "lighter" book next. They were vehemently against it -- they begged me for another book with hard issues that they would feel in their hearts. Another book that would make them gasp with fear, and cry with relief. Another book that would put them in the shoes of a character  who is dealing with hard problems.

We had a chance to Skype with Dan Gemeinhart, and he showed us the arc of his next book, SOME KIND OF COURAGE (available January 26). In a stroke of good luck, the arc arrived the next day in a box full of arcs from Scholastic.

SOME KIND OF COURAGE was our second read aloud of the year, and it was all kinds of magic. The book can be compared to THE HONEST TRUTH in its theme, characters, and story arc. Both are stories of quests, but SOME KIND OF COURAGE is historic fiction, rather than realistic fiction. Gemeinhart has the ability to write memorable scenes, and his mixture of sad or nerve-wracking scenes with humorous scenes is masterful. We are Skyping again this Friday, and we feel privileged to be one of the first classes to give him feedback on this book. I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say that we'll be giving him two thumbs up!

Because of a change of schedule, four of my students were going to be missing read aloud two out of the four days we have it. I was completely flummoxed about what I should do. There was just no other time in the schedule when I have them that I could work it in, and I didn't want to deny all the rest of the kids just for those four. I was stuck. Then their teacher came to me and shared that they are feeling the same way. Missing read aloud was a non-negotiable for them. So we worked it out so that my four can stay for read aloud and not miss anything in their other class. WHEW!

If that's not a testament to the strength of our classroom community around our read aloud, I'm not sure what is!


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