Read alouds are one of my favorite changes for this school year. Last year, I’d pick a novel to do with the whole class, read it, quiz after each chapter, test after finishing, repeat. This year the read aloud is the last part of class. I try to finish with at least 10 minutes left, and the beauty of saving the read aloud until the end is that if the lesson goes nothing as planned and I end up with way too much time, we just get more read aloud time. I love it. The first day or two, a couple of my classes were gripe-y (“Can’t we just talk the last few minutes?”) but by now they’re all used to it. When we finish the lesson (or book talk if I do one at the end of class), they go put their binders up and sit down. The majority of kids are really engaged in the read aloud. The first couple of days, I pulled a stack of several books that I’d either found on “Good Read Aloud” lists or know are popular with teens. It was important to me that they weren’t too long (I don’t think any are over 200 pages, or if they are, it’s just by a little) so we won’t spend months reading the same book. First I went through the stack and asked if anyone in the class had read them. My classes are small, and I knew there were at least a few of the books that no one had read, so I didn’t want to do any repeats, but I did offer books like The Outsiders and The Giver although in every one of my classes, at least 1 kid had read both of them (I was sad, especially about The Outsiders because I love it so much).
After eliminating books that someone had read, I read the descriptions about each book and then let each class choose. I offered to vote on paper or just discuss it and choose together, and every class just wanted to talk about it. These were the winners for first read aloud of the year:
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Two of my classes chose this one. I love this and have seen it on many read aloud lists. We are not very far into it yet, and I know there is more action later, but honestly, my classes are not that into it yet. One of them asked when they were going to
find out what happened to Melinda. I think once we get a little further, they’ll really get into it.
Blank Confession by Pete Hautman
I discovered this book last year when searching the internet for engaging books for teens. It’s short, it’s funny but also has a lot of action and is a mystery, and two of my classes chose it. This is the book that I would say is winning in the excitement factor right now. The two classes that chose it are probably two of my classes that are generally less interested in reading, but several in each class are REALLY into this
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
I love this book. I read it this summer and I was hoping one of my classes would choose it. Honestly the class I’m reading it to didn’t choose it, but they said each book left in the running after eliminating the ones students had already read would be fine, so I told them this would be my choice. They agreed. We aren’t too far into it, but I think they like it. They’ve laughed out loud a couple of times and they definitely are engaged during reading.
In October/November, I’m going to participate in the Global Read Aloud. If you don’t know what it is, go here. It’s my goal to have all of these books finished by then and in the classes we have extra time in, I’ll read interesting articles, short stories or poems as the read aloud. I’m planning to give my classes the choices between the two upper level GRA books Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina or Fish by LS Matthews.
After the GRA, I’m planning to try to read as many genres as possible for read aloud. So, for example, in my classes that are reading Blank Confession, I won’t give them another mystery option; I’ll have them choose between other genres for the next book.
I am loving read alouds so far! It’s such a nice way to end class.