Taken from a painting of Kapiti Island at Sunset.
by Sonia Savage.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

World Read Aloud Day

World Read Aloud Day takes place on the 7th of March - a Wednesday.  If you want to know more, click on the picture below and read about it on the LitWorld's website.
My class and I will take part, unfortunately Wednesday is a day when they go to a Secondary school in the morning for such things as cooking, metal work etc.  So we will really only have the afternoon, and  we will make the most of that.  I will need to discuss with them what exactly we will do.

The thought of dedicating such a day has got me thinking about reading aloud.  I believe it's really important and I have always read aloud daily to my class.  While I never read aloud as a child to my younger siblings one of my sisters did and she entertained them with many a bed-time story.

When I went to primary (elementary) school in the '50's we had radio broadcasts. One such broadcast was a book that would be read aloud.  Only excerpts, that would make you want to go out and find the book. I loved listening.  I still listen to books on my ipod!

I have been teaching for around 37 years, so I guess that's a lot of books read aloud to my class over time. I don't remember most of them, although there are a few that stand out. Once when I was teaching 10 year olds, a girl brought to me a book called Momo by Michael Ende and asked me to read it to the class.  I did that, we were all totally in love with Momo and I remember to this day the sense of togetherness we shared and I remember the student who suggested the book.  She would now be nearing forty years of age!

Another time while teaching 8-9 year olds I read them The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton, one I had never read myself but one that my sister read to our siblings and they had all been enchanted by it.  Remembering that I picked out the book from the library - lots of pictures- and settled down to share it.  Not long into the book I had the children all inching closer and two of the 'tough' boys hanging over my shoulder ready to turn the pages.  I know Enid Blyton is a frowned upon author, with good reason, however when I was growing up she was my main diet as there was very little else available to me in my small New Zealand town.

Last year I read aloud Because of Mr Terupt by Rob Buyea and again there was that anticipation each day as we began to read and groans and pleadings to continue when I put it down.  I believe there has been mixed reviews to this book, however we are on the "we loved it" team.  I think it may be one of those books that really works best when read aloud.  We skyped the author and he read aloud to us the first page of the sequel.  We will be among the first to buy it, and I am sure he was rewarded by the spontaneous laughter that erupted from the class as he read.

About ten years ago I had a class of 11-12 year olds who just didn't like reading, nothing chosen suited. I heard about this wonderful new book out - Harry Potter - so I hurried to buy it and began reading it aloud. About a quarter way through the book I had to abandon it.  It did not take!  I was so disappointed and for many years was mystified as to why such a popular book did not work.  A few years back I read somewhere, someone writing that in their opinion Harry Potter was not a read aloud book. Who knows? It didn't work for me that year.  I could count on one hand the books that I have abandoned over the years so I guess that is remarkable.

When school starts back on the 31st of January in New Zealand, I am ready to go. I can't wait to begin sharing with my class "Okay for Now" by Gary D Schmidt.  I know my class and I know they will love this book as much as I do.

How about you?  What book really worked reading aloud to your class? Do you have one that you remember that just did not catch fire?


  1. Hi Kathryn,
    Great post. I've been thinking a lot about read aloud as it was one of my favourite tasks with the juniors and getting to choose the book was a big deal for the little ones. To be honest I hadn't realized how important read aloud would be to the older kids but I imagine there would be certain slots of the day where it would be a great time to do so. Straight after lunch instead of the traditional Sustained Silent Reading.


  2. Stephanie
    My first choice after lunch is silent reading but because mine will be reading in the morning, I will actually be doing the reading aloud after lunch.
    We allow our students to eat fruit and silent read after lunch, however I am not sure how I am going to cope with crunching apples as I read. Might have to discuss that with students to see what they think too!
    Hope you find a great book, yes I believe reading aloud is always important for the seniors too.

  3. Hi Kathryn

    I had what I'd call a very successful read aloud year last year. I teach a composite intermediate class. I started with a wonderful book called Trash (excuse the oxymoron) by Andy Mulligan. This book really captured the hearts of my kids and they even applauded when we finally finished. I then went on to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. What can I say, my class loved it and a large majority of them voted to have The Chamber of Secrets as the next read aloud. Part of the hook in it was my enthusiasm for Harry Potter (being an avid fan/convert) and I would snatch even five minute gaps to read a bit more. Admittedly, I did find some parts hard reading aloud but I bashed on. I had wonderful feedback at the end of the year from my class about reading; several had read a chapter book (something they'd never done before) as well as read at home. One boy told me that whenever I read Harry Potter he always enjoyed it and wanted to find out what happened.

    I agree with you about giving up on read alouds that aren't working for you. And, since last year, I completely believe in selling reading by being hooked into the book I'm reading and sharing that passion.

    What is the Enid Blyton stigma about? I've heard of it before but haven't found out what it is all about.

    Thanks for your inspiring posts on reading. Personal reading of children's fiction is something that's been on my to-do-list for a while.


  4. Valerie
    I must check out Trash, sounds good. The book I read by Enid Blyton was imaginative enough to capture the kids so I say okay. Once some students asked me to read a Famous Five book, I gave in, I couldn't believe it, the writing was so plain and all they did was eat! I was so disillusioned as I had loved these books as a child. Needless to say I couldn't stomach reading it and had to abandon the read aloud with the excuse that I thought it was a book they could easily read by themselves if they wanted!
    One day I must read the Harry Potter books, I really got put off them by the class I read it to - one of my sisters has read them all and thinks I am just the lowest for not wading in!

  5. Hi Kathryn - yes Trash is a very good read, although I have not yet read it to my class. My all-time favourite book to read to my Year 8 class, is 'Harris and Me' by Gary Paulsen. I figure I have read it maybe 9-10 times to classes now and still get the giggles in some places and feel overwhelmed and have to take a swallow before reading some of the end!
    'I am not Esther' by Janice Marriott is another excellent readaloud, made even better being an NZ read.
    'Once' and 'Then' are very powerful, with older children unable to believe that the boy does not know what is going on.
    Finally, I tried the AVAILLL programme last year (read with movies) and read 'Bridge to Terabithia' aloud = again, as it is a part of the programme. Kids adore it.


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