Reading, Teaching, Learning

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Slice of Life - The Connections, Fun, and Hilarity of Reading Aloud


I love participating in Slice of Life, started by Two Writing Teachers and writing a story, reflection, or musing at least once a week.
     After enjoying Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin and Skyping Liesl Shurtliff, my fifth graders voted the newly released Jack: The True Story of Jack & the Beanstalk as their final read aloud of the year.  I was not surprised.  Liesl Shurtliff knows how to spin the perfect tale for this age group.  I was really excited because I couldn't wait to read it either! I've written about my love of reading aloud several times, but it's one of my favorite things, so here I go again!

     My fifth graders love read aloud time.  They gather around my black low-slung reading chair in the corner, some at my feet, some laying on tables, and others bring their chairs over.  They are incredibly interactive listeners.  By interactive, I mean they love to talk, exclaim, whisper predictions, laugh, mime characters' actions, and parrot favorite lines.  I admit, sometimes this can drive me crazy.  Sometimes I would like to shush them and have peace and quiet.  Sometimes that's what I do, at least so they can hear the next line, and sometimes certain books bring out a quieter mood.  But mostly, I let them interact.  I smile, laugh, enjoy their insightful predictions, connections, and comments, and appreciate this community of enthusiastic listeners.  After all, listening isn't always all about being quiet.

     This book brings out all those interactions and more.  We just got to the part where we see how this book connects to Rump, and there was actual applause!  Some of them predicted the connection early, others made it when it was right there in front of them - either way, it was so fun.  I rarely read aloud a book cold, but this one I am because it just came out, and I didn't have time to read it first, so I'm experiencing the discoveries right along with them.  That makes it even more enjoyable.  Shurtliff's books have the added bonus of embedded allusions (she calls them "Easter eggs") to other traditional tales.  It's fascinating to see who catches those allusions -they get really excited when they do.  There are a surprising number of gaps in the background knowledge of fairy tales, however.  I'm not sure why this is - parents/teachers must not be reading as many as we think.  I had some students who had never heard of Rumpelstiltskin before I read Rump!  Thus, another reason why Shurtliff's books are a must read!  By the way, my fifth graders are too young to know Monty Python, and I don't even know if Liesl meant to allude to it, but Sir Bluberys seems to have stepped right out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail!

      Because of many schedule changes and special events, it's hard to stay true to read aloud time in May, but I'm determined to do it (we're reading Threatened by Eliot Schrefer in 6th grade), and I sure hope we finish before the end of the year.  Regardless if we do or not, we will be reveling in great stories until students leave for the summer!


     

9 comments:

  1. First congrats on your daughter's wedding! I taught 5th grade and how I remember the joy when I would read to them . . . I used to say no matter how old we are we still love to be read to! I also agree that their prior knowledge was weak when it came to fairy tales . . . that's why I would read to them more often! Sounds like you have a wonderful class!

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  2. My sixth graders enjoyed being read to. I did a whole Nursery Rhyme unit with them where they had to create original stories for Nursery Rhyme characters. They would have loved these books.

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  3. Love reading aloud to my kiddos. This book looks wonderful, Holly - thanks for the review.

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  4. Love reading aloud to my kiddos. This book looks wonderful, Holly - thanks for the review.

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  5. I wish more teachers did read aloud!

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  6. So glad you have been able to hold on to read aloud time and appreciate the value of it!

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  7. So glad you have been able to hold on to read aloud time and appreciate the value of it!

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  8. Oh, I listened to most of the audiobook of Rump, but I had to return it and I never got to the end!! Now I'm wishing I had! Sounds like the read aloud experience in your classroom is so joyful. Don't change a thing. :)

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  9. Love this line - "We will be reveling in great stories until students leave for the summer!" I'm currently reading The Secret Box by Whitaker Ringwald with my after school book club. It's a great read and our next book club book.

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