It’s time for me to talk books. Not the teaching of reading. Not which is needed more fiction or non fiction, not the whys or why nots, not the concern about how we teach reading, but more about how we instill book love; the desire to read. I’ve written in the past here (check out links within this post) and here what books have meant to me and my love of read alouds. In this post I hope to reflect upon what it is we want from our students as we read and encourage them to find “that” book that touches their heart. As a substitute teacher now, I am excited when I read to students, Toddlers through 2nd grade. If I could say that I would sit next to students all day long to read and discuss, question and learn together in this space, would not be an exaggeration. An informal setting, not with a homogeneous group of readers, sharing a prescribed level text, but with books that draw me to think, wonder and hope. Would those books also grab the heart of the listener! Whether, a humorous or nonsensical story, a realistic fiction, non-fiction or fiction, genres only limited by books that have yet to be written. I have seen caring early childhood teachers stop what they’re doing, responding to a request to read a book, shoved at them by their students, crying out, “Read, read it now!” More often then not the response is an unequivocal, “Yes let’s read,” (not, “Oh, it’s not story time.”).
After a read aloud or a class book study, it is so important to give students opportunities to think and reflect, support “critical thinking” as they engage in “book talk.” Let’s not bombard them with questions, instead remembering that reflection is a process, not a race, not coming up with the right answers, instead, helping students formulate their own questions as they ponder. As I think about books more and more as “mirrors, windows and sliding doors” (an idea coined by Rudine Sims Bishop here ), we as educators can look at inclusivity through many lens; books being a powerful tool, close at hand.
Within a busy day, with so many lessons and curriculum to teach, are read alouds a daily event, a fill in or when time allows? How do we promote rich discussions that may evolve as students ponder?