Friday afternoon rolled around after a week of PARCC testing. Being out of the normal routine is difficult for my third graders—and for me. However, we started a new read-aloud this week to pull out in those odd time slots after testing sessions finish. Stone Fox has captivated readers for years, and my students are no different.
Each day, after we file down the hallway from the computer lab where we have been testing, students grab their snacks and find a spot at the carpet. They wait patiently (or not so patiently, in some cases) for everyone to get settled. Quiet conversations break out as students wait, one student reminding another about what happened in the last chapter, a pair of students discussing little Willy’s grandfather and his mysterious illness. I soak it in—this time when we all share in the joys and struggles and lives of our characters.
I begin reading. Not a sound. The occasional gasp or exclamation of frustration. As I read the chapter about little Willy’s first encounter with Stone Fox himself, I can sense the tension in the room. At one point, I paused and glanced around at my students. One boy exclaims, “Keep going, Miss Hansen! Don’t stop now!”
As I reach the end of the chapter and close the book, I hear cries of “No! Keep reading!” It was time for afternoon recess. I couldn’t stop the smile that spread across my face. One student said pleadingly, “Can we skip recess? Please?”
This is what I love about reading. The feeling of being lost in a story. The ache when you have to close the book. The “just-one-more-page/chapter/section” requests that accompany a read-aloud. The connection that readers make to the characters—across time and place and situation. When students experience this, my heart soars. Let us never lose sight of this sacred space for read-aloud in the busyness of the day.