This title drew me in because, truthfully and sadly, reading aloud to my students has decreased. As a conscientious teacher, this realization has troubled me. It is disturbing to see how much the pressure and demands of meeting high expectations in every SOL has taken precedence over reading aloud to my students. I want to change this.
Dr. Layne seems to have experienced this and many arguments with many "adversaries" who don't see the value in reading aloud to students. His quest to defend this practice and to commission us (the classroom teachers) to be leaders ready to speak professionally on this topic causes me to read with determination. This sounds like I'm stating an objective, but I WILL read this book with determination to know and support why reading aloud to students of any age is a practice crucial to the development of a community of readers. (I will continue to enjoy his humor too! I find myself laughing out loud numerous times.) Great choice!!! Thank you!
Totally second your last four lines of why I have chosen to read this, how the humor helps make the reading even more enjoyable, and agree this was a great choice.
So, let me just begin with a confession...I am not much of a reader. I know this is NOT a good thing when you are a first grade teacher. BUT with that said, one of my favorite times of the day is reading to my students. It seems like each year I have to struggle to find the time and space to put in my read aloud time. Many of my students aren't read to much at all before coming to school. Obviously, those are some of the students who struggle the most to learn to read. I love to read with different voices and watch as my students 'get in to' the story. We talk a lot about how we picture things in our mind and share what those pictures are. Like how a character might look or a place. I'm excited to read this book and to learn how to be more effective in using my read alouds to impact students' learning and abilities to become life long learners. I'm with you, Kathy, about his sense of humor. Keeps me reading. =) As for the most powerful reason to read aloud, I think for my students is it provides exposure to many things. Exposure to what good readers do and think. Exposure to places they have never and may never visit. Exposure to topics that due to their socio-economic status they haven't and may never experience.
Great confessional and testimony that you don't have to be an avid reader to know the joy of read alouds. Your reading aloud with voices is helping to make the reading come alive. I feel the most powerful reason to read aloud to students is to help them figure out books can help create a movie in their minds, that reading can be enjoyable and informational, and not just a chore that needs to be completed. I am looking forward to reading how others have been successful with read alouds.
Confession is good for the soul! As a librarian, this is my confession: When I read Donalyn Miller I love her ideas but I feel like the worst reader in the universe. I love to read but am not a voracious reader (like she is). I liken my reading to savoring a great book. I have to ponder things, let them roll over my mind, imagine, predict, compare, and talk to someone else about it. When I'm done with a really good book I have no interest in immediately starting a new one because I'm still savoring the last one. We all read differently, just like our students.
Love the format of this book and the author's voice that comes through. I like the "Swiss knife" analogy and how a read aloud can encompass so many tools in the classroom.
Each fall we have a Read Aloud to Your Child Week where we challenge parents/caregivers to read every day for a week. I'm hoping this book addresses how to encourage/persuade parents to read aloud, too.
Has anyone read Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry? Sounds good but when I looked up reviews they talked about the main character's voice being more of a teacher's voice than a second grader.
Well, I chose to read this book for two reasons: first, I wholeheartedly believe in reading aloud to students of all ages - not just in the lower grades as is more commonly done. Secondly, I was immediately captured by the title! Was Steven Layne going to defend reading aloud? Yay, finally! And was he actually referring to it as a best practice that needs to be sustained? Yes, I believe that's the case...and so, I must read it!
To address the prompt, I think the most powerful reason to read aloud to students - and particularly to older ones - is to give them the experience of stories for the sheer enjoyment of them without the expectation of any ritual assignments. So many students enter school without stories - both personal experience stories and book stories because no one at home ever read to them. So many of those students struggle with reading from the start, and it only grows more intense as they make their way through the grades. Reading aloud to these students is especially critical, I believe, and something I have always done. Fortunately, I have never been criticized for doing so, nor have I ever been accused of "not teaching" because I was reading aloud to my students. What I have experienced are the faces of totally enrapt students who have laughed, yelled, and even cried along with me, and in the final pages, begged for the story not to end. Enough said.
'Nuff said indeed!!! So grateful you have been able to do this over the course of your career without repercussion or fear.
Marge, YOU have defended reading aloud to students in your comments already! Enough WELL said!
Sorry I'm a little slow getting into the swing of things!
One of the reasons I chose the Read-Aloud book was the fact that I conducted my Masters Thesis on the importance of Read-Alouds in 7th grade. I wholeheartedly agree that one of the most effective ways to engage students in the magic of story is to read aloud to them. As Marge said, so many students (I can only attest to students in middle grades, but I suspect it holds true for all ages) come to us without a story schema. They identify reading with drudgery and equate text with punishment. This misconception wounds my literary soul! My goal is to help students get lost in words, to transport themselves into another world through the magic of books. Many times, they won't (or can't) do this for themselves, so I believe my job is to be a catalyst-- to jumpstart a love for reading. I strongly feel that teacher read-alouds accomplish this amazing task!
Hello friends! It is high time I jump on this commenting train! I love this book and am wanting to say AMEN, preach it brother!! I love Layne's style of writing and was hooked even after the foreword by Regie Routman( one of my favorite educators!) I visited PES/JCM summer school the other day and shared a read-aloud with grades 3-5. There is nothing like the suspense in the room as children ( and in this case also teachers) waited to see what was going to happen on the next page. I love it! It is exciting for me to see that an emphasis on read-alouds is returning as a research-based best practice.
I totally agree with you, Lucinda! I am loving this book (and laughing out loud as well!) I am a Regie Routman fan AND the suspense in the room when its a great story is so encouraging, exciting, and the students are "all-in" in terms of engagement. Our school read The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester this past school year and the engagement factor was off the chart!
The title of this book won me over initially, but it's content is proving to be even more impressive. Like Lucinda, I wanting to also say, AMEN, preach it brother!! I want everyone in my school to read this! I am very grateful for his long list of benefits of read-alouds and the research citations included. I think I may possibly find them useful in my work environment. On a personal note, I was reading along, feeling smug with how much I was in agreement with his writing. But it didn't take me too long to notice that I was going to be challenged professionally also. His appeal for the reader to advance his/her professional development included this statement, "Read one professional book on literacy for every guilty-pleasure book you pick up." While I love to read, I admit that my practice does not match this challenge! But I'm willing to consider it. :)
I've enjoyed reading all of the posts written so far and hearing about the excitement in reading this book. I'm a bit behind getting started, but I am loving Dr. Layne's style of writing and how he uses so many different studies to defend the read-aloud. I've always loved to read myself, and I've been a bit discouraged with how soon some students, even in my first grade class, decide that they do not like to read. I totally agree with what Tammy said above about how a teacher read aloud can 'jump start a love for reading.' When students are learning to read, they are so limited in the types of books they are able to read. Parents have contacted me before to say that their child is bored of their take-home books that they read in the evenings. The plots are simple, the characters one-dimensional...no wonder students (especially gifted ones!) are so bored with those stories. Now, those simple stories are essential in the learning to read process, but I am seeing more and more the need for read-alouds in the classroom. How else will students be exposed to multi-dimensional characters and fun plot twists, and new and exciting vocabulary? I read-aloud to my students, but I'm realizing that I have not yet done it enough! The way their eyes light up during a read-aloud show how they are learning to love books, and that's what I would like to see all my students love - even those who struggle to read on their own.
Just to add to the love here.....I think this is a fabulous book pick!! I'm cheering as I read and laughing out loud! On the RCPS connection, I like the direction that CO has gone in with appointing curriculum leaders and Kim Tate is exemplifying the part on page 11 where Dr. Layne talks about the importance of having people in authority who understand literacy best practices. Go, KIM!!! I appreciate the list of all the benefits of read alouds for students. When its a great book, I think another benefit is that it builds community among those in the room. Its like sharing an adventure or experience. I am changing grade levels next year, so I am reworking my letters and communication with parents. I think I will include the list of benefits to reading aloud for my parents. Let's get them on-board with us!
While I have always read aloud to my students, the amount of time has decreased over the years. But still I cling to that time because I want my students to hear more sophisticated vocabulary and literature than they are capable of reading on their own. It is also important in the current climate where reading is seen as a necessary skill to pass the test to provide positive, enjoyable reading experiences unconnected to a test. That doesn’t mean we not learning because as we discuss what we’re reading and what words mean, predicting and inferring together, we are learning. I read aloud to cultivate a love of books and to introduce my students to books, authors, and genres they may not seek out on their own.
I love how you said your classroom is "learning together" through the use of a read aloud. What a way to build community, model strategies, model fluency, and share the love of discovery and suspense as one reads. Building vocabulary has been a huge piece in read alouds. I fully and sadly agree with you that throughout the years, the read aloud has taken the backseat to other requirements when really...the READ ALOUD should be driving the whole learning/comprehension process!!! I LOVED the list on page 16 that support read alouds by Jerry Johns.
Let me end with the coolest quote in the whole chapter. "The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children." Page 9
I am teaching in Ankawa, Iraq for five weeks this summer at an IB International Baccalaureate School called Mar Qardahk. I am teaching beginning English to teachers and a part of my program will be read-alouds. Often we underestimate the value of read-alouds as the teacher in Chapter 1 so eloquently stated. I use read alouds in the classroom in my school back home and have found it very successful. I am looking forward to seeing how I can incorporate read-alouds in my classroom this summer.
I was so encouraged by the K-12 goal-setting at the county-wide reading vision conference early in June: all grade levels were giving priority to read-alouds! Beginning this book by Steven Layne today, I sense in it the potential to inform us as a county in establishing (re-establishing) this "best practice" for literacy education. Dr. Layne's challenge to stop being a Smurf and actually be informed and able to intellectually discuss why and lead others into using read-louds struck me personally. As a county K-12, we will not carry out our intentions to practice reading aloud if we don't really know how and why it "works" for building literacy. Here is where I appreciated the analogy of the Swiss Army knife, because, having had some Swiss Army knives, I have sometimes had no clue what certain implements were for, or knew what an implement was supposed to be for, but really wasn't sure how to use it for that purpose. I'm looking forward to reading on in this book to feel more knowledgable about the hows and whys of read-alouds for reading instruction.
As a reading specialist, I am keenly aware of the power of the read aloud. I too was intrigued by the Swiss Army Knife analogy described in Chapter One by Brian Cambourne. This analogy gave me motivation to read on. I know which tools I access regularly during read aloud instruction but I anticipate becoming familiar with several more. I was touched also by Elizabeth Sompolski's letter to Katherine Paterson and Katherine's response. A book such as "Bridge to Terabithia" can be a life-changer, a class-changer and it is common for readers to feel so close to an author that they are compelled to write a response to an author or ask burning questions. Stories are written with passion and it's quite magical to see listeners and readers become impassioned too.
I, too will confess that I'm not much of a reader myself. I used to be - before my kids! And then I entered my masters program while they were both babies, so I only read professional books for the next two years. I think I just got out of the habit of relaxing for hours at a time, and getting lost in the story. That being said - I have always loved reading to my students and my own children. I can't pinpoint what I consider to be the most important benefit of reading to children, but I can most certainly list what I believe to be some of the most beneficial reasons:
I. It gives them exposure to experiences in which they may never have
2. Helps them to be sympathetic towards others
3. Offers opportunities to hear language in which they may have no other chance to do so
4. makes them comfortable with lesser used phrasing, syntax, etc.
5. Offers the chance to see things through the eyes of others
6. Opens their eyes to sensitive situations that others may be experiencing
7. It is fun!!
I could go on and on. Anyway, loving the book, am on Ch. 4 and need to catch up on my posts.
I was immediately drawn to this book title for a few reasons. First, I remember my own teachers reading to us all throughout school. I remember my 4th grade teacher reading “Where the Red Fern Grows,” my seventh grade teacher reading, “Hoot,” and even one of my college professors reading “Educating Esme.” Although I don’t remember all the books my former teachers read, I do remember being captivated in their reading as we all shared in the story together. Second, I love reading aloud to my own students but sometimes feel like my kids don’t “get” it like I did as a student. Am I doing something wrong? Am I choosing the wrong books?
My favorite part of teaching is creating relationships with my students. I believe it is important to read aloud to students so we make connections- we share something while we read books together. We all experience the same grief while reading “Where the Red Fern Grows” and we are able to connect and bond. I really love that Layne encourages reading aloud because it’s more than “fun.” It relates students to each other and to their teacher. Reading aloud also creates conversations and boosts comprehension. (YAY!) While reading aloud, we can stop and teach students how to think and then respond. Reading aloud creates life long readers! (And creates some memories!)
I love, love, loved this book. I thought it said all the things we know to be true about kids and reading. My best school memories are of my elementary teachers reading aloud to me. This book gives the research to back up what we all know. As a Title I teacher I sometimes get left out of the read aloud time. Usually I am involved with small group instruction, so I don't get to read as much as I would like.
On page 11 Dr. Layne asks, "How many people do you know in a key leadership role in a school building or district who truly know literacy best practices and have the authority to put them in place?" I'm proud to say that we have Kim Tate to stand up for best practice. She is doing a great job of reminding us all to get back to what is best for our students. Thanks Kim!
I believe the most important reason to read aloud to students is to present them with text they might not or cannot read on their own. Through this, we are able to bring life to experiences they have not yet had the opportunity to partake in. We are able to share voice, expression, insight, and even our own love of written word. I believe that reading aloud to students is critical in our daily literacy diet, as it is a springboard for so many facets of our instruction.
I have enjoyed all the insightful wisdom you have all shared. I have been slow to this conversation (duh- it is 8/15/15), but as one person said, I, also needed time to let the content percolate in my mind. I read it at the beginning of July, and sped through (just like some of our kids) so I needed to go back and revisit. I loved the comment 'don't be a Smurf' because Layne is so right that we need to have a professional response. He gives us documentation to back it up.
I want to read out loud to kids so all of them can celebrate the joy of entering another reality. Through the experiences of the characters they can try out events and decisions in the safety of their own imaginations. I think sharing a great book builds empathy for each other. It doesn't hurt that students can hear fluent reading and have a model for what they should sound like when reading aloud.
Kimber Tate, Coordinator of English, Reading and Libraries