Friday, July 29, 2016

Beginning of the Year Read-Alouds

Like most educators, I am slightly obsessed with bookstores. I love the way they smell, I enjoy watching people browse for just the right book, I love hearing the conversations between parents and their young children as they discuss authors and characters, and I get excited every time I find perfect books for lessons I want to teach or share with the teachers with whom I work.

The other day, I was in Half Price Books and found two gems that I am excited to take with me to school this year! Elementary teachers spend considerable time at the beginning of the year building community with their classes and setting the stage for future reading success. It is important to share special books together so that students can anchor their learning to mentor texts, establish norms and procedures for working closely in a shared space, and simply adjust to their new learning environment with the presence of quality children's literature. 

Wise teachers are very intentional about the books they choose at the beginning of the school year. They read books that are funny, books with characters that help children make connections, and books that model expectations in easy, relatable ways. Teachers understand what feelings and anxieties students may bring into their new classroom and can leverage read-alouds for a positive start to the year.

There are classic read-alouds that I have always read to my kids at the beginning of the year, but I get giddy when I find new titles that I can add to my coaching room for teachers to share with their new groups of kiddos. Here are two finds that I highly encourage you to check-out!

The Book That I Love to Read by Joe Fitzpatrick. This is the cutest read-aloud ever! The main character is a boy who has found the PERFECT book. It kind of reminds me of The Monster at the End of This Book because each new page has fun surprises that primary kids will LOVE. Selfishly, I want to keep this book for myself when I do read-alouds in classrooms the first few weeks of school year to introduce myself to the kids. But, if a teacher REALLY wants it, then (of course) I will concede!

How to Read a Story by Kate Messner. This is quite possibly the most perfect book to read to kids before a lesson on choosing a Just-Right book. It is versatile enough to read at home with your own kids or to your class as you establish norms for independent and partner reading.  It is kind of a clearinghouse of all beginning of the year reading mini-lessons, as it addresses everything from choosing a place to read, to changing your voice to match the characters, to boldly exclaiming, "The End." Just precious. Amazon recommends this book for K-2nd grade, but I would read it to third graders in a heartbeat. If I had to choose a similar book, it kind of reminds me of Wolf! by Becky Bloom.

As the new school year quickly approaches, I will continue to find books to support the teachers and students I get to work alongside all year. What are your favorite back-to-school read-alouds?