Monday, February 05, 2018

Guest Post: The Impact of Read Aloud by Jaclyn Friedlander

Jaclyn Friedlander of Friends with Fins was a 4th grade student in my class several years ago. Recently, Jaclyn messaged me reminding me about a few of the books she remembers from 4th grade. It's always great to hear from a past student-even greater to hear about a book they remember. As a teacher, I see read aloud as one of the happiest and most important times of every day in the classroom. So happy to see that Jaclyn agrees! Enjoy!

The current cover along with the cover of the book that  we read aloud in class.
One of my favorite memories from elementary school was read-aloud time when we would sit on the floor and listen to our teacher read books to the whole class. Independent reading time was great but there was something magical about sitting as a group and imagining the story for ourselves while we listened to the teacher’s voice.

I can vividly remember some of the stories that have inspired adventures in my life. One teacher read Loch by Paul Zindel. The book we were reading together often sat on the ledge of the chalkboard and the cover of that particular book terrified me, but the story was so fascinating that I did research and reports on the Loch Ness Monster throughout the rest of my formal education. Then when I had the opportunity to go to England as an adult, I added a few days to my itinerary and made a special trip to Scotland on a hunt to see Nessie. I went on a tour boat and heard about the legend, its origin and how it has evolved, as well as scientific theory behind what the Loch Ness Monster is.

Another book that had a particular impact on me was The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi. I remember as a 4th grader in Franki Sibberson’s class, LOVING that book and coming to school every day excited to hear the next chapter. My favorite part was when Charlotte chopped off all of her hair because she wants to fit in with the sailors, or so that’s how my mind remembered that moment. I recently re-read the book and she does chop her hair but for slightly different reasons. In the back of my mind I always thought it would be amazing to be like Charlotte Doyle and have an incredible adventure at sea.

Between hearing that book read to us and being passionate about the ocean, learning to sail has been in the back of mind as something I would like to do.  I have explored the sea as a scuba diver and I now have the opportunity to learn how to sail. I will be learning to sail tall ships with 85 lines and 13 sails, just like the one Charlotte Doyle was on! I’m excited to learn a new skill and see where this adventure takes me!
One of the ships that Jaclyn is learning to sail.

There is something inspiring about sharing stories aloud and you never know what great adventures, life experiences, undertakings, or professions the stories will lead to in the future!

Jaclyn Friedlander is the author of the Friends with Fins Children’s Picture book series and the host of educational marine science videos that can be found here:


  1. How wonderful! I hope some of my students remember read aloud this fondly!

  2. Anonymous6:41 PM

    I completely agree with your thoughts on a classroom read aloud. I also remember growing up and being excited to hear my teacher read the next chapter of a book we were reading as a class. Being allowed to just sit and listen didn’t feel like work, although the reading skills we had learned were being used. It was simply for enjoyment. There was not an assignment we were going to have to complete. Many times we were able to get comfortable with a pillow or lay down on the floor to listen. To imagine the words being read coming to life.
    Today, a read aloud is more important than ever! With the rigor of the standards and the push for standards-based classrooms, students do not have time to just sit and enjoy reading independently or sit and enjoy hearing a book being read. Most of the time, students do not even enjoy reading a book.
    It's unfortunate but very truthful- We have taking the joy out of reading. I believe that if a teacher shows the enjoy that can come from a reading, through a read aloud, this thought will change. Just like the importance of modeling a new skill for students, it is important that a love of reading is modeled by the teacher as well. By bringing this activity back into the classroom, maybe then our students can stop looking at reading negatively. We can share with them the new places and adventures they can find within the pages of a book.

  3. Murphy Russell Corley:
    I really enjoyed reading this blog post. I teach students with disabilities who are nonverbal and I read aloud to them whenever I get the chance. Some days I get very down when I am reading and I have students clicking, stomping and at times yelling. Part of me wants to just put the book down and walk away. Then one of my students laughs or gasps at a part of the story and I remember why I was reading in the first place. Listening to stories can be so important to a child when they are first being introduced to literacy development, as hard as it is to think about some students are not read to at home and school is the only place where they will be exposed to a book. I always compare a read aloud to watching a movie that was first a book. I have always hated movies based on books because I have a strong imagination and the movie never lived up to my wild characters and beautiful settings. However listening to a book still gives you the chance to use your imagination. Like you said in the article, the student remembers listening and imagining it, you get to decide what the characters would look like and how they would act.


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