Friday, May 8, 2015

Five for Friday! May 8

Today is Field Day at my school!
I do not have a regular classroom.
Therefore I have not much to do on Field Day.
So I took the day off!

This week's Five for Friday theme: Reading Aloud

So, let's get serious about reading aloud to kids.
When I had a regular classroom it was my absolute favorite thing to do.
I made time for it every single day!
We read a lot of picture books for language related lessons, but we also read aloud from a chapter book daily.

So, when I moved to a lab for my classroom I set up this:

Those are my favorite read aloud books and I put them behind my desk. It was a little bit of comfort at making such a big change. The books and photos of my children made my little corner of the lab feel comfy, cozy, peaceful, like a security blanket.
This week I started taking all those books home- cause I don't read aloud any more.

So, just to cheer me up a little I thought I would devote this post to my favorite read aloud chapter books. (I have so many that this is likely to be Part 1 of a series of posts!)

My number one favorite book to read aloud is this one:
This is the story of Mr. Fabiano and his class. One day he is absent and the substitute is also absent. Due to a mix-up in the office no one shows up to teach the class. And the kids don't tell anyone.
The kids run the classroom all day- based on routines and procedures that Mr. Fab always used. They follow the lesson plan from the board and several students take on leadership roles. Do they have problems? Of course!
The beauty of this book lies in the writing the students do during the day. It is through each student's journaling that you learn about them as individuals and that insight makes the book special. There is a part near the end in which something happens that ALWAYS made my students gasp and then cheer.
I always began the year reading this book. My routines and procedures mirrored this class so perfectly that my students thought I wrote this book.
I didn't! The fabulous Ralph Fletcher did!

Another book I adore for reading aloud:
My boys always loved this book because the main character is a football playing boy! His nickname is Crash. Early in the book he meets a new kid named Penn Webb. Penn becomes the butt of jokes between Crash and his friends and is often picked on and bullied. Eventually Crash and Penn are both trying out for the track team. It comes down to a race off between the two to decide who gets the last available spot. Penn wants the spot because in Pennsylvania (where they live) the track team will go to a competition called the Penn Relays. Penn's great grandfather was in this special race and it means a lot to him to be in it, too.
At the finish line of the race-off Penn and Crash are running dead even. At the last second Crash realizes what an amazing gift it will be for Penn to win this race and he shouts, "Lean." (He knows that sometimes the runner that leans into the finish line has enough of an edge to win.)
I promise, cross my heart, this is such an emotional point of this book. Every single time I read this part my students were on their knees mesmerized by the story. When I got to the sentence where Crash says "Lean!" I shouted it because that is what Crash would have done. And the next two sentences have a profound impact. NEVER did I make it through those two sentences without crying. I love this book.
You are going to have to read it to find out who won that race.....

The funniest book ever and one I LOVED reading just because of the voices:
Oh, my, reader, if you haven't tried this book, you simply must. It begins with a very tiny mouse named Despereaux, whose very French mother says to the mouse dad, "There will be no more mice babeeeeez." I absolutely love to say that in a french accent! This book will make your kids laugh so much. In the end it's all about friendship and keeping your promise. And it constantly reminds you to be a reader. (Don't watch the movie. It is very different and very disappointing.)

A classic that I always read just because boys loved it. But so did I:
You may know this story. The boy, Travis, is about 12 and in the 1860's (I think) his dad goes off on a cattle drive and leaves him to care for his mom and little brother Arliss. Soon after that a big yeller dog appears and they keep him. My kids always loved this book, I mean LOVED it. Old Yeller saves Little Arliss from a charging momma bear, Travis keeps a major promise to Old Yeller when the dog is seriously wounded, and in the end you learn just how tragic it is to lose a beloved pet. When I would get to the sentence that says this, "But I knew then that I had to shoot my big yeller dog," I would always just sit for a minute to compose myself and with tears streaming down their faces the kids would listen to the last paragraph of that chapter.
So, why did I read it every year?
Because in the last chapter of the book Travis' dad comes home and finds the family distraught over the death of Old Yeller. This is what dad says to Travis, "Things like this happen. They may seem mighty cruel and unfair, but that's how life is a part of the time. But that isn't the only way life is. A part of the time, it's mighty good. A man can't afford to waste all the good part, worrying about the bad parts. That makes it all bad."
Such incredible wisdom.

A newer book that we discovered was a goldmine for learning to be writers:
This is the story of Miss Cash who invites Ms. Mirabel into the classroom to help the children with their writing. Ms. Mirabel tells the students that they all have a story inside themselves. "When you find it, you will write it. Word after word after word."
And they do. This is a beautifully written book by Patricia MacLachlan.
Each of the children in the book reveals something unique through their writing. Even the teacher, Miss Cash, writes something at the end.
My favorite part is when Ms. Mirabel brings in a bag of dirt to show the students. They wonder what it is for and she explains that the dirt represents her heart, her home, her place of belonging. Miss Cash then tells the kids that she keeps a jar of ocean water in her home because that is her place, her comfort.
On the last day of school with my last third grade class I asked them, "What would be in your jar?"

What would be in your jar, friends?
Mine would be full of books....


  1. Don't be sad, you have effected so many children with your wonderful read alouds! I always loved listening to you read. I try to be like you when I read to my kiddos! :)

    1. You are so sweet. I am not really sad! It's just a big change- not even near the change that happens in a couple more years when I retire!


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