Read Aloud Time – The Way to Stay in Destiny

Franki Sibberson has written in the past about her students having notebooks to write/draw in while she reads aloud to them. I tried it out last year and was thrilled with it. I waited until the middle of the year to try it, as beginning-of-the-year third graders are still growing in their reading/writing/listening skills.

I read The Way to Stay in Destiny by Augusta Scattergood (as we were going to Skype with her afterward) and the students each had their own notebook. I spent a few minutes modeling for them how I might use a notebook while listening to someone read, showing some quick writing and drawing ideas. But I really wasn’t sure how it would go (which is exactly how I felt last year). I also thought this book would be a bit challenging for my students as it’s set in the early 1970s in Florida, with a lot of places, events, and ideas for which they do not have much background knowledge.

They loved the book (and loved the chance to talk with Augusta Scattergood) and their notes were fascinating. Some students drew pictures of things happening in the book. Others made some notes to themselves about things that surprised them, confused them, or brought out strong emotions in them.

Theo is the main character. I love the “But…” “But…” “Theo!!” This kid is into the story!

This girl does such detailed drawings (and she does them quickly) as we are reading.

The look on Theo’s face here seems so perfect to me for this part of the story.

These quick sentences are capturing some things that are critical to this student’s thinking. Uncle really got them upset as we read. Even at the end they weren’t totally sure about him.


I love that she titled this, “What I’m thinking” because this isn’t explicit in the book, only barely hinted at.

This isn’t from the book. This is me and two students. When we get started I toss their notebooks to them and then pens. Clearly my aim is not so great. I now hand the cup of pens to a student and it gets passed around so everyone can grab one. (Safer, but far less amusing. They found it hilarious when a pen would bonk someone on the head. Ugh.)

This is my favorite page of all of them. I love this desire for another book with these characters.

Augusta Scattergood also wrote about this and our Skype call.

One reply

  1. Library_Jim says:

    Love this idea! Reminds me of when I did Lit Circles and had one of the jobs as “illustrator” which was so popular I let everyone do it if they wanted to. Like your guys, most of the time they’d illustrate something we were reading about but sometimes it would just be doodles and such, but it was all fine. I even posted some of the best ones so we could follow along with those as we read.

    As for not being sure they’ll get what you’re reading about, you might want to try something I did when I read aloud to ESOL students. I’d open up a blank document or slide show and throw in mostly photos of anything I thought they wouldn’t quite get as I read aloud, mostly if it was important to the plot. For example, we were reading something that mentioned an El Camino and it was important that they know it’s a car with a pickup truck like back. I did places, people, Lombardo Street, City Lights bookstore, thimbles, you name it.

    For the On the Run series by Gordon Korman I even “cast” the non-existent movie so they could keep the characters straight and since it was a cross-country adventure and he stuck to real geography, we followed the journey on Google Maps. It blew their minds when we’d map it, then I’d turn on the photos right there in Google Maps and show them places mentioned in the story that really existed.

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