Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Someone Has to Show Them the Way

I am enjoying this summer's book study on The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. This post is my reflection on Chapter 2 and Chapter 3. (Check out the book study page for links to posts related this study.)

I love quotes, and Jim starts every chapter with one. The one that starts chapter 3 I really love.
Few children learn to love books by themselves. Someone has to lure them into the wonderful world of the written word; someone has to show them the way. Orville Prescott

This quote seems to sum up my reaction to this entire book. I want to be someone who shows kids the way to love books.

So far, this book makes me just want to read and read and read to my class. It has affirmed some things I did last year in my first grade class. When we had a little "extra time," I usually would read a book. I read to introduce or reinforce concepts in math, social studies, and science. Sometimes I felt like I was taking an easy road...but this book makes me think I did okay (and maybe should have done it even more reading!).

These two chapters both talked about helping develop attention span. I like the intentionality Jim mentions in chapter 3 - reading shorter picture books, reading related picture books, reading books by the same author, reading different versions of the same story, reading a picture book series, reading chapter books, reading longer chapter books and novels. I guess that's my biggest takeaway from these chapters - intention.

This past year we read "The Three Little Pigs." I remembered that I had a couple of books that had different versions of this story. I took them to school to read. I pulled a few other versions from the library. We read a version with modern pigs and a version with javelinas and a version with gators. One told the story from the wolf's point of view. In one version, there were three wolves and a big bad pig. The kids loved them. We compared and contrasted them. We watched this version. We listed out our ideas of title for our own version. (My favorite title: The 16 children and the Big Bad Teacher. Hmm. Maybe I was not in the best mood then?)

At one point we even wrote a short version of our own. Here are photos of that story.

Pigs Story - Brick by Brick

Pigs Story - Brick by Brick

This learning experience was just a whim of a new teacher - not sure what to do but doing it anyway. I can see some other things we should have done to extend it. And we should have made a book of our own version (or versions). But it was a fun experience. And we will repeat it this year - with more intention.

Sometimes I read a book multiple times. Sometimes I wanted to emphasize a particular skill or strategy related to reading and comprehension...so repeating a book meant that kids already knew what was going to happen. Sometimes I read the same book again because I didn't have another one ready; kids would finish sentences or add to the story. I had learned early in the year that reading a book more than once helps kids remember and talk about the story. Again, sometimes I didn't have a lot of intention. This will be different this coming year.

I am really enjoying this book. What has inspired or stood out for you?


  1. YES Scott ... I too was excited to see some of the examples of building attention span and ways to intentionally introduce different types of stories!

    In our preK, we usually have at least one theme/topic based on favorite authors, so I was happy to read how Trelease reaffirmed that as a good strategy. We also did a week of Three Little Pigs like you and used different versions of the book to compare and contrast. Even at a preK level, children can recognize the similarities and differences in a familiar story and take it to a new level.

    Loving what I've read so far! :-)

  2. I'm happy to hear Scott has also used "The Three Little Pigs" and a couple other versions for compare and contrast. My kindergarten classes love this lesson. We spend several days reading and discussing the stories. Read and reread! Chapter 3 reinforced my use of nursery rhymes also. It always amazes me to see how many children today have not been introduced to nursery rhymes. I agree that inability to rhyme can be a precursor to later reading problems.

  3. I couldn't agree more Deborah! I focus on one nursery rhyme for two weeks throughout the entire year and it is wonderful! So many skills can be taught with nursery rhymes, they are very versatile. I also do lots with fairy tales because of the different versions and all the rich conversations that take place when we compare and contrast them. Plenty of nursery rhymes and fairy tales are part of a well balanced "reading diet" imo :)

  4. I have not read The Read Aloud Handbook, but after reading this post, it sounds like a "MUST READ" for any early childhood teacher! I will be adding it to my summer reading list. Thank you!

  5. I am so glad to hear the conversation about nursery rhymes. I have felt in the past that this is so "old fashioned" to be doing in my classroom. The rich language, rhyming words, comparisons with other versions, etc. are definitely a part of a well balanced reading diet. I like to use the nursery rhymes for large motor, transition times, during snack time, etc. What I need to get better at is educating parents about the importance of nursery rhymes. I also believe that this is preserving a piece of our culture. Nursery rhymes are timeless!