A few years ago I asked my eye doctor for bifocals (apparently progressives are now the thing and I was behind the times). My doctor suggested I take off my glasses for reading and that would solve my problem. That’s what both of our daughters do. I pushed back because, as a teacher, I need to be able to read a book and look out across my class, back and forth, back and forth. There isn’t time to be removing and replacing glasses for that. So I now have progressives. And they are fabulous (mostly).
I’ve read a few books to my class in the first couple of weeks of school. A few being about two per day, on average. And I’ve gotten to thinking about how the way I read the book impacts my understanding and enjoyment of it.
When I read a book to myself I tend to skim, at least a little. If it’s a picture book I don’t pay close attention to the pictures. I enjoy the phrasing, the language choices, the illustrations, but I don’t soak them in as I read.
When I read a book out loud I am far more aware of the writing. I catch alliteration I missed when I read to myself. I notice phrases that compliment each other. I see turns of phrase that make me smile. I appreciate the work the author did in putting those words together in just that way.
When I read a book aloud to a group their enjoyment of it increases mine. I hear their gasps and chuckles. They mutter about things they see in the illustrations – things I had completely missed. They call out predictions and questions. (And thanks to my progressives I can see the looks on their faces and the gems in the illustrations they point out.)
Thinking about this has helped me understand why reading books to my class is one of my favorite parts of my job. I have books I hoard and hide away because I don’t want anyone to discover them until I can read them aloud. I have many titles I won’t let a substitute or colleague read to my kids. The joy of reading a book aloud to a group of children is such a gift.
This arrived in the mail today. I sat down and read it slowly, taking in the language and exploring the illustrations. It was worth every minute. Still, even after that, I’m sure it will be an even better book when I read it to my class.