Thursday, September 10, 2009

Read Alouds & Mr. Peck

I just recently gave my Oklahoma Sequoyah Children's booktalk and genre introduction lesson to my 3rd and 4th grade students. After I provided a brief introduction to genre using the posters I shared in an earlier blog I gave a short summary of the sixteen titles included in the 2010 contest where we determined the possible genre of the book.

Due to the reading level and/or length of the books, I encourage my 3rd and 4th grade teachers to read at least 2 titles to the class and possibly 3 so that every child will be eligible to vote in April. Our district has always believed that reading aloud to students, especially books that are above their independent reading level, was a good way to introduce them to new authors, more complex sentence structure and plot development, and new vocabulary. Teachers always stop to explain complicated situations in the story and pose questions to help students better understand the plot and the vocabulary.

Tonight, as I was trying to get caught up in reading my GoogleReader RSS accounts, I came across an interesting blog from The Reading Zone that discussed an interview with Richard Peck in Notes from the Horn Book where he "scolded" teachers that read his books aloud to an entire class. I was relieved that the author went on to defend the value of read alouds.

If you believe that reading books aloud to your students has educational merit, remember to reference the research of Jim Trelease. Here's an article from Education World that included statements from Jim Trelease plus comments from teachers to support the benefits that students receive from read alouds. Not only are read alouds used to develop a love a literature, but they can also to be used to improve classroom climate, to provide a print-rich environment, and to increase the ratio of books to students. The article includes three examples to make read alouds work for comprehension, to highlight math concepts, and to include parents.

As the author from The Reading Zone stated in the article, perhaps Mr. Peck was misunderstood in the interview and his statement was not a direct reference against reading aloud to students. In my opinion, Jim Trelease and his research makes a solid statement for the value of read alouds.

What are your thoughts about read alouds?
What benefits have your students experienced from read alouds?
Are there certain titles that you like to read aloud to your students for specific reasons?

If you need some ideas of what to read to your class, you might go to Jim Trelease's web site for his "Read-Aloud of the Week." And you might even ask your school librarian for a suggestion! :)

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