Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday SOL Taking a 'read-aloud' for a spin

This is a Tuesday "Slice of Life" for Two Writing Teachers. Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.


My new Teaching Resident was reading her first book to the children, and,
for a moment,
I was transported back in time,
to the challenge of those early read-alouds.
Now so ordinary,
now so expected,
so terrifying.

I'm not talking about selecting the book,
but the sheer performance of it,
the act of reading it aloud
to so many children at once.

How to
get their attention?
keep their interest?
hold the book so all can see?

How to
help them settle in,
to prepare them for the book ahead? 

How to
hold your body for authority and assuredness?
check on everyone with a scan of the eye?
reach out a hand for a gentle squeeze,
in the midst of reading?

How to permit certain behaviors and squash others?
How to distinguish between these?

How to
deal with interruptions?
greet the unexpected?
ignore certain things or make them teachable moments?

How to solicit good listening?

How to
project your voice?
speak differently as narrator or character?
use your voice as a tool
inviting engagement,
bringing quiet,
holding suspense?

How to sprinkle questions
without losing overall pace or children's attention?
How to spark their curiosity,
encourage predictions,
expand their understandings?

The essentialness of all this,
at first so challenging, a new skill;
so automatic, tried and true.

It looks so easy, but there is so much involved.

To watch someone for the first time
is to realize the many parts to success,
how much there is to consider,
to juggle,
in the midst of a simple picture book.


  1. Reading aloud is definitely an art. A few years ago my husband was asked to read aloud to a group of third graders as part of a community event his company was doing. I made him practice!

  2. This is exactly what it feels like - performance art.

  3. Tara's right. Read aloud IS performance art!

  4. I wonder how many don't realize the effort put into every act a teacher does. Great to hear, Maureen!

  5. I love it Maureen. It reminds me of the book about the dad (a school librarian) and the daughter who read aloud each night, consecutively, until she went to college. She had grew things to say about how he prepared for reading to kids and then the actual performance of it. So glad you get to read to preschoolers and mentor new teachers as well!

  6. I recall when I first began reading aloud to kids there was all that you mentioned, and then there was breathing! Took me a while just to learn to breath while reading aloud...perhaps that came with being more relaxed with the task? What a terrific post/observation!