Next Monday my students and I will be participating in the Global Read Aloud (click here to find out more). This is my third year being a part of this amazing project. Each year books are selected for various grade levels. You choose the book that you will read with your class and you can follow the pacing guide that has been set up for the book, usually three chapters per week, or do what works for you. The wonderful part of the project is connecting with other teachers and students around the world. ALL FOR FREE!!!! There are resources provided for each book. If you have not done this before, it is worth your time to check it out. Head over and sign up! It officially begins on October 1st!
Over the past couple of years, I have exposed my students to “The BFG” and “A Long Walk to Water” all because of the GRA. Each year, I have a colleague approach me and say isn’t that too difficult for YOUR students? I try to believe that it is sincerely coming from a place of concern and not a case of dismissing the abilities of my students. Granted some of my students would struggle to read, not to mention understand the aforementioned books independently, but shouldn’t all children be exposed to different types of literature, even those that may be at a higher reading level?!
YES! In his book “The Read Aloud Handbook,” Jim Trelease gives his do’s and don’t’s for successful read alouds. Included on his list of do’s is to “occasionally read above the children’s intellectual levels and challenge their minds.” I have found that some of my non-readers or struggling readers can understand complex texts better when they are read aloud to them. Last year, we had the best discussions while reading “A Long Walk to Water.”
He also suggests avoiding long descriptive passages if a child’s imagination and attention span don’t allow for it. You can eliminate the paragraph altogether or shorten it if it contains important plot information. So my answer to colleagues is are you serious (insert hand over face emoji)?! No, I don’t really say that but it is going through my head. My professional answer is yes, independently it would be too difficult but as an educator, I know how to make it work (insert big cheesy grin). Then I tell them to read The Read Aloud Handbook.
This year I have chosen to read, “Amal Unbound.” This week we are spending some time learning about Pakistan, which is the setting for the story. There are some tough issues tackled in this book. Indentured servants and equal education for all genders are just a few. Again if you have never participated in the GRA, please, please, please check it out! Did I mention it is free?!
Until next time, read on!