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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Read Alouds

There is one question that ELEM teachers come across a lot... "is this book age appropriate?" 
In my opinion and experience, you can make just about any children's read aloud age appropriate. Notice I said "just about."
For example, there is a wonderful book called Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold that I read to a 2nd grade class. I read this for the first time while in college, during student teaching, and one of my professors was adamant that this lesson would not do well. Now, I am not usually outspoken when it comes to authority. However, I felt strongly.  The biggest part of this process was that I wanted to see if I was in a middle of a lesson that wasn't working, how can I fix it on the spot? I knew that there would be times in my career that this would happen, and I needed to know then how to react. Well, the kids loved it! Yes, I did agree that there were some concepts that were over the kids' heads.  The way I set up the lesson, they were able to use their imaginations, and do the graphic organizers as well as the 'Think, Pair, Share' activity. The lesson was a success!
I am a believer that it is all in how you can utilize these wonderful materials!
Another example, is when I was working with older kids. Now, you would normally think that The Three Little Pigs is too 'young' of a book for 12 year olds, right? Well, what if you were teaching 'How to resolve a problem,' or 'compare and contrast,' or even teaching the students how to form a case for a mock trial? I read The Three Little Pigs and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by  Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith to my students.  Then I had them come up with a defense for each side.  They had to prove their case to myself and the class. These two books led to a fantastic lesson that lasted a few days!


So to sum things up... the next time you need to teach something difficult to your students, maybe look back to something simple like children read alouds!

What lessons worked for you that you thought wouldn't work?


  1. All lessons can have their oppses. If you set the stage it is amazing the level at which students can understand and explain their thoughts. With good guidance in a classroom almost all is possible.

  2. I love to use picture books with older students. They can get a point across so well and succinctly. I love to use "Thank You, Mr. Falker" and "Mr. Lincoln's Way" by Patricia Polacco. (Well, truthfully, anything by P.P.) :-) I've used "Rose Blanche" to teach about WWII. The list could go on!

  3. I am an elementary librarian. I use picture books all the time with students to get across complicated ideas and make the students think over their heads. I would love to see your Tar Beach lesson... it sounds interesting! I used Hero Dad last week as a Veteran's Day lesson for young students. The book is dedicated to the students of Grafenwöhr Elementary School. I told my students that Grafenwöhr was very much like their school except for one thing... and then I read the book. Keep up the great blog posts.

  4. Thank you for all the great comments!