With thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for the heads up, it turns out that today is World Read Aloud Day, and I am going to make up for the fact that I was not really on-the-ball with Valentine’s Day by being all over World Read Aloud Day. With good reason.
First, a clever Valentines/World Read Aloud Day fusion poem:
Roses are red/Violets are blue/Reading joyfully and expressively aloud to students, especially from complex texts that are above students reading level/Is about the best thing you can do.
If you don’t like my poem, here’s the case made in video:
First, here’s Jo Facer reading Othello aloud to her year 7s at London’s Michaela School.
Notice how her reading breathes life into the text. It’s expressive, beautiful, honestly, almost entrancing. This is how texts began- as stories read aloud. And you can see how a beautiful read aloud engages students, sells them on the pleasures of a great story. If we want reading to “win” in the age of the device, we are going to have to face it a pleasure and a social phenomena, something shared and connected. And of course the ‘win’ in audible when you hear her students read–not just in the pleasure they take in reading, but in their ability to capture the meaning amid the extremely challenging syntax of Shakespeare–and discuss the text.
This is a topic I take up in this blog post.
You’ll see some similar themes in this amazing clip of Eric Snider reading aloud to his students at Achievement First’s Bushwick Middle School in Brooklyn.
You see many of the same themes as in Jo’s class. His passion; their passion; their comfort with complex text. But his example is less of a pure read aloud. You can see him weave in independent reading and text analysis as well–he’s leveraging the benefits of his own reading aloud by, their reading aloud and their reading independently. His reading brings the meaning to life but then they go back and study it on their own to find key moments. You can see him using tools to ensure that kids are reading along with him as he reads: “be ready to read”; the quick spot check where he asks them to jump in with the next word.
Last thought about reading aloud. Yes, it’s one of the best things teachers can do. But it’s not just for teachers, as I discuss in this post.
Happy World Read Aloud Day!