Well, I did it. I faced my fear. I started reading aloud to my tenth graders. And…it’s amazing! Now I have read aloud to my students before. For example, I read parts of the anchor text we are working on or when I model my think aloud for informational text. However, I have never just read something out loud to students just to do it. I have heard the advantages of this, but for some reason, reading just to read to high schoolers terrified me. What if they hated it? They would protest! All it would do is waste time and no one will listen…my fears went on and on.
After MRA12 and spending time with the wonderful members of the Nerdy Book Club, I started to think that maybe I really should do this, even if I do have scary teenagers. I mentioned it in passing to my co-teacher. Jacqueline was completely supportive of the idea and thought the kids would love it. Then last week, my good friend Sarah over at YA Love posted her top 10 read alouds to use with her students, which prompted an engaging Twitter conversation. I knew what book I wanted to use – Wonder by RJ Palacio. I just had to do it.
Last Wednesday, I finally took the lead in my fourth and fifth hour classes. It seemed to go alright. Some students laughed at the farting nurse. It was quite and students said we could read some more. I now start every class with a read aloud. First and second hour are a half step behind since I did not start till Thursday. The students seem to like it. This is just how we start class. I noticed when I am reading and some students start to trickle in late, they are silent when they do. There is no big entrance or production about it, limited disruptions in class. Most students seem to be listening and it just seems like a great way to ease into the day. One student even told another one of her teachers that I am reading aloud to them and she thinks my colleague should as well. I passed off Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach. I hope her students like yet.
I had to work at our ISD yesterday, so I was not in. I took Wonder home with me so I could finish reading it myself. Jacqueline told me today that students were bummed to see I was not there and begged her to read. She said that of course she would. But then she realized I had the book and it was not in the classroom. The students were not happy about that. Today, a few student lectured me and told me I was not allowed to take it anymore and they could not wait to hear more.
I am very happy I get to share this book with so many students. It is just amazing. It is funny, heart-wrenching, and all in all just beautiful. I am not ashamed to admit I had some free-falling tears at a specific spot, even though I could tell it was coming. (Won’t spoil it for anyone that has not read it!) I hope I continue to find success with reading to my students in this way.