Ever since I learned I’d be teaching third graders this year (after eight years with first graders and kinders) I’ve been thinking about what books I want to read aloud this year. There are so many purposes for reading aloud and so many wonderful books. (Just to be clear, this is about our sacred read aloud time after recess each day. We read picture books, fiction and nonfiction, during lessons throughout the day frequently.)
- To help students discover new authors or series that they will want to continue reading independently. These read alouds are chosen to help hook students as readers. I am considering Mercy Watson, Time Warp Trio, Dork Diaries, 39 Clues, Percy Jackson, and so many others.
- To introduce students to new genres they may not know. We have an extensive classroom library and helping students find the right books for them is a big job. Read alouds is one tool in that work.
- To help students see what proficient readers do. These read alouds are chosen so that I can model what I am doing as a reader. (This does happen with all read alouds, but some are books are chosen specifically for this.)
- To help students think about the world in new ways.
We began the year with Donovan’s Word Jar. It’s at a great reading level for my students, it’s about a boy who loves words, and it is full of diverse characters. It was a wonderful choice to start off our year. Students found some copies at our Reading Is Fundamental giveaway so a few got to go home with their own copy of the book.
Then we read the first Mercy Watson book, Mercy Watson to the Rescue. As soon as we unveiled our basket of Mercy Watson books in the classroom library it was empty. It has remained that way almost constantly for several weeks.
We followed Mercy with the first Key Hunters book, The Mysterious Moonstone. Geeky, diverse characters who cleverly solve a mystery, fantastic. Now I need to get more of this series for my students.
This week we started Princeless. This graphic novel is actually a collection of the first four issues of the Princeless comic books. It addresses racism and sexism with humor but quite significantly. I’m trying something new with this one. Thanks to Franki Sibberson I’ve given my students little notepads and pens to draw or write as we read. I’m putting the book under our document camera so students can see it clearly. We spent the first day with the book just looking at and discussing the front and back covers. I’ve planned the first two weeks of this book carefully, where we’ll stop, questions I’ll ask, things I want to help them notice.
I’ve always enjoyed read aloud time but I’ve never been this thoughtful about it. I’m excited to see where it takes us in our discussions, our thinking, and our interests in further reading.