Saturday, April 7, 2007

Why Read-Aloud?

Reading aloud to children is very important. Children do not come into the classroom with the same literacy experiences. Jim Trelease explains some of these differences on his website, . I found his data on the total words heard by age four fascinating. He broke up the data according to class:
Professional: 45 million words
Working Class: 26 million words
Poverty Level: 13 million words
Read-alouds expose children to fluent reading that contains rich vocabulary. How are students suppose to read or write a word that they have never heard? Read-alouds expose them to a different vocabulary than they would hear in a normal conversation. Jim Trelease claims that two of the factors that produced higher achievement in reading are the frequency of teachers reading aloud to students and the frequency of SSR (sustained silent reading) in school.
Jim Trelease's website is full of interesting information about reading. Check it out!

A Classic

One of my favorite books to share with my students is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. This book describes a day where nothing goes right. In fact, Alexander would like nothing more than to just "move to Australia". In the end Alexander discovers that some days are just bad. My students enjoy writing about their own experiences with terrible days following this read-aloud.

Judith Viorst just turned this picture book into an hour long musical. Visit the following links to learn more:

Images for this post are from the website and are also illustrations from the book.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Get Kids Hooked on a Series!

Sometimes at the beginning of the year second graders need a little (or big) push to take on a chapter book. Chapter books take a little more time than a picture book, and we all know that 7 and 8 year olds have things to do. However, if you can get a kid hooked on a series, chapter books can soon become a second grader's best friend. They finish the first one and move right along to the next one. They are familiar with the characters and style and gain confidence along the way.

If you have been anywhere near a second grade classroom, you have most likely heard the name Junie B. Jones. Junie B. Jones is the modern day Ramona Quimby (Beverly Cleary). Barbara Park is the author of the Junie B. Jones series. These books are hilarious and are appropriate for readers at the beginning second grade reading level.

Jigsaw Jones books are also popular in my classroom. They are a little more difficult than the Junie B. books, but not much. James Preller is the author of the mystery series. My students enjoy figuring out the codes and trying to solve the mystery featured in each book.

I always have a few readers who are not reading on grade level. I have found the Henry and Mudge books to be appropriate for these kids. Cynthia Rylant is the author of these chapter books. They are very easy to decode and full of sight words. There are lots of pictures for the students who still rely a lot on illustrations to aid in comprehension.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Point of View

A great book to use when teaching students about point of view is Jon Scieszka's The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Rather than hearing the same old version of the tale, as told by the pigs, this books tells "the real story". It is told from the point of view of the wolf, Alexander T. Wolf. As you can imagine, it is quite different from the pigs' version. You see, the wolf only wanted to borrow a cup of sugar from his neighbor to use in a cake for his sick Granny, but a sneeze turned into a catastrophe.

All joking aside, this book is a starting point for discussing the way a story can change depending on who is telling it. It is important to teach children not only how to read, but how to be a critical reader and thinker. This is a fun way to illustrate the different sides of a story.

Check out this site to read about other books by Jon Scieszka: . I haven't read his new book, Baloney (Henry P.), cowritten with Lane Smith, but I am looking forward to it.

Monday, April 2, 2007

One Great Read-Aloud

At the beginning of the school year, my best reader brought me a book and asked me to read it to the class. The book is called The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and it was written by Kate DiCamillo. I had actually heard about the book at a conference I had attended on reading. The book was known for its detail and rich vocabulary. It is about the journey of a toy rabbit who is loved, but who only loves himself. Through his experiences of loss of love, loneliness and learning to love again, Edward learns what is important in life.

I began reading the book and my students were hooked almost instantly. We had some interesting discussions. The chapters always kept the listeners wanting to hear more. About a third of the way into the book I discovered the Edward Tulane website. This site features a teacher's guide with discussion questions, as well as vocabulary words which may be unknown to the children. The site also features a Reader's Theatre script.

We are currently reading The Tiger Rising, also by Kate DiCamillo. We just started it last week, but my students seem to be just as engaged in this one as they were The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

Other books by Kate DiCamillo are Because of Winn Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, and the Mercy Watson series.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Beginning....

I love children's literature. There is nothing like introducing a child to what ends up becoming his or her favorite book. I teach second grade. I always start the year off with a dose of David Shannon. I love to laugh and I love to hear my students laugh. A sure way to get a laugh is to read No, David. This book is a great ice-breaker. It is also a conversation starter. Most of my students can relate to young David, who finds himself in trouble a lot.

Other books about David include David Gets in Trouble and David Goes to School. My students also enjoy the books Duck on a Bike and Alice the Fairy by David Shannon.