Sacred Space for Read-aloud

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.

Slice of Life

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6 thoughts on “Sacred Space for Read-aloud

  1. Thank you for your post! I teach fourth grade, and I am constantly dismayed at how little time we have to read quality chapter books to our students. Our district puts a lot of pressure to stick with picture books only in an effort to expose them to MANY genres, characters, plots and text organization. That push to teach for the test robs often robs us of the time they need to get hooked into chapter books and thus become chapter book readers themselves! I’m glad you got a chance to do this with your students…even in the midst of testing season! Thanks you!

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  2. Several years ago one of my Young 5’s students would frequently call out “Again!” at the end of a story. Sharing a wonderful story is such a joy. You make me want to check out Stone Fox from our library tomorrow.

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  3. My own teacher’s devotion to read aloud made me a reader AND a teacher. Many years from now, your own students will remember with fondness and gratitude this irreplaceable gift you are giving them.

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  4. “Can we skip recess?” Awesome, even during PARCC testing, a student wants to skip recess. You prove we can still have readerly lives in the midst of testing and that reading can be a joy. Wow…lost in a story contrasted with stories lost as we analyze the texts, close/cold read the texts, and barrage students with a litany of text-dependent questions. Let us not have stories lost when we can get lost in stories. Bravo for making kids want to be a part of a story during testing time. You are doing good work!

    Liked by 1 person

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