Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Still Learning to Read: Choosing Our Next Read Aloud

This is one of a series of blog posts that continue the conversation around Still Learning to Read--teaching reading to students in grades 3-6.  This series will run on the blog on Tuesdays starting in August 2016 and continue through the school year.

Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins

January in third grade is such an interesting time. Students come into third grade having just finished 2nd grade. They are young children. Primary children. They aren't much older in January but they seem to grow up a lot during this first half of third grade and they start seeing things a bit differently. I know this happens in every grade but I find it to be the most obvious in 3rd grade as kids move between the primary and intermediate grades.

Up until January, I work hard to choose read alouds that focus on plot, help students build strategies for understanding longer books and holding onto a story over time. I want them to find series they love and to learn to talk and write about their reading. In January, I know they are ready for something a little bit different--something a bit more complex--something that will move the conversation a bit.

So this week, we'll start the new year with Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins. This is one of my favorite new books published in 2015. (It was an NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor book last year and has received several other honer and awards.) I read this book aloud last year and it was definitely an important book for our class and a favorite for many students. This book is perfect as a read aloud for 3rd and 4th graders . It is a plot that they can carry over the course of the book. The character is one they will come to know and understand. We will watch the character change over the course of the book. The book also introduces readers to an issue they may not know much about. The story is set in the Sunderbans and thinking about a setting which they are unfamiliar will start lots of conversations. This book has a plot that young readers will love and it also has layers of depth and invitations to think about a variety of issues in our world. And the book does so in a way that is accessible and appropriate for 3rd graders.

In a school year, we only have so much time for read aloud. We can read aloud a book every 3-4 weeks so I now I have to be very picky about the books I choose to read aloud. I want them to be books that will be loved by most of the students, that will grow conversations and understanding of the world, that will expand comprehension strategies in a comfortable environment and that will continue to grow our community. I am excited to see where the conversation goes with this read aloud!

(Our new edition of Still Learning to Read was released in August!  You can order it online at StenhouseYou can follow the conversation using the hashtag #SLTRead.)

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