Mad ramblings of a Literacy Specialist

First Day of School Read Alouds August 16, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — madhotliteracy @ 12:45 PM
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By now we’re all thinking and planning for the first day of school.  One of the things I’m hoping that you’re planning for is your read aloud.  The read aloud choice for the first day of school does so much in a classroom:

  • it sets the tone for reading for the year — will this be fun, engaging, boring, same-old-same-old??
  • it sets up the expectations and tone for discussions within the class
  • it lines up the teaching for the entire first week or month — buddy work, accountable talk, even the beginnings of the reader’s notebook
  • it provides a vehicle for minilessons before there is much substance with which to work —
  • and so it sets up the entire structure of the workshop and leads the class through the teacher’s dream of the workshop structure.

Wow!!  That’s a lot to ask of one little book.  But it makes it even more important that we don’t just run up to the Media Center on Wednesday morning and grab any old book off of the shelf.  It means that even as knowledgeable as Kristine, Sharon, and Lila are, just asking for a title from the Media Center and hoping for the best, isn’t the best way to go. 

If the read aloud on the first day of school is going to all that it can for our classrooms, it needs to be carefully thought out, selected, planned and then lovinging delivered.  No one else can choose that book for you — because no one else will desire quite the same tone that you will.  No one else runs a classroom quite the way you do.  And no one else builds the same relationships with students that you do.  The first day of school is yours and yours alone.  And the read aloud on the first day of school is your secret magic. 

I borrowed some ideas from Choice Literacy for the read alouds — I’ll connect you to some blogs and reviews of great books to consider.  But ultimately, the choice rests with you — the Dreamweaver for the first day of school.

On the Choice Literacy site you can find the results of a poll from last year.  Shari Frost polled her colleagues about read alouds — you can see the list and the mix here

For the primary grades, check here for a blog by Denise Johnson called Joy of Children’s Literature.  She has a list of possible read alouds for the first day of school.  Her blog is well worth the read any time.

For the upper grades, take a look at Karen Terlecky’s suggestions for read alouds to begin the year.  She’s a fifth grade teacher who writes a blog called Literate Lives.

You’ll also find some terrific book ideas (although not a specific back to school list — yet) at A Year of Reading  These tend to be recommendations for the middle grades (3-4) but you’ll often find materials for kiddos a little bit older or a little bit younger. 

So — what other terrific sources have you found for choosing your read aloud to start the year??   Share — please — Remember, the best teachers are NOT born – they’re MADE — by the teacher next door!


2 Responses to “First Day of School Read Alouds”

  1. Mary Lee Says:

    I love your list at the beginning of the post that tells all the things the first read aloud does — ALL TRUE!!! Last year, I made a list of picture books I read in my 4th grade classroom in the first days of school (some or all of them would work in younger classes). I reposted it herewith some other good back-to-school links.

    Thanks for the shout-out!

  2. Karen Says:

    I also want to say thank you for the shout out.

    I couldn’t agree with you more about the read aloud selection — my read aloud choice is a huge part of how I create the community in my classroom.

    You make fabulous suggestions to teachers!!

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