“The world is dark, and light is precious.
Come closer, dear reader.
You must trust me.
I am telling you a story.”
During my second year working as a preschool teacher assistant I was offered to fill in for the kindergarten teacher for about a month. The first day I noticed there was about a half an hour gap of time before lunch when the kids would start to get antsy. “What can I do?” I thought to myself at the end of the day. I went home that night and pulled out my chapter books.
The solution was obvious: I will read them a story!
I brought The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo to school with me the next day, and at 11 o’clock I gathered the class together around the circle rug, turned off the classroom lights, opened all of the windows to let in the natural sunlight, I sat on the floor with the group and I started to read.
Knowing that this may be first experience many were having with a chapter book not filled with pictures I initially put the book down and took out a piece of paper and drew my best interpretation of each of the main characters: the small, large-eared mouse, the graceful princess, a mangy, sly rat, and a swollen-eared servant girl. I placed the pictures on the ground around the students.
“Here are some pictures to look at, but I’ll tell you a secret.” I whispered, “This is a magic book. If you closed your eyes and listen, the pictures will appear in your head.”
And that is how my read aloud adventures began.
The Tale of Despereaux is a book I always recommend for read aloud beginners. But the key to any good read aloud is to read the book alone first. A confident reader’s tongue can enchant words more than one who is exploring the book-bound world for the first time.
There are many times in this book when DiCamillo addresses her readers.
“Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform.”
When reading this book to the class I would change the word “reader” to “listener” or I would use a student’s name. I guarantee that your listeners will beam when their names appear in the book.
For the next four weeks, my kindergarteners looked forward to 11 o’clock and so did I. Reading aloud to children is an experience like no other. As the reader, you must think of yourself as the gatekeeper, ushering in a child’s imagination. You are the wizard, bewitching each written word to life. Read alouds are so much more than verbalizing text: a story-teller is a light-keeper, brightening up a child’s curious mind with a new adventure!
What written adventures are you taking your children on this month? Need suggestions, contact me, or keep your eyes peeled for my next post!
A Fellow Light-Keeper,