Monday, March 31, 2014

SOL 31 (!) of 31 - Story Time

I've written about how bedtime with my daughter has always been my favorite part of motherhood.  I can not think of a better way to end the day than to melt into a story together, turn off the lights and share about our day in whispers.

But since I wrote about it, I've been thinking about story time with my first and second graders.  I haven't had story time with students since my daughter was born, but that was always my favorite part of teaching and it is where I developed my story telling skills.

 Story time always started the night before, when I chose the read aloud.  I looked for a book that made me smile, laugh out loud, cry, or feel nostalgic.  If it connected to a unit of study in the classroom, so much the better.  I love stories with words that feel good on my lips or trip up my tongue.  I love stories in which not all of it is told in the text; a good study of the illustrations enhances the understanding.

Some of my favorite authors are Robert Munsch, Jan Brett, Patricia Polacco, Mem Fox, and Tomie DePaola because they are experts at using my favorite features.

I loved the magic spell that could be released with the start of a good book.  I played with my facial expressions, volume of my voice, timing of sharing the illustrations, inflections, gesticulations...I rehearsed these each time I read the story until I had my audience mesmerized.  When my group of 25+ seven-year-olds had stopped fidgeting, started gasping at the surprising parts and laughing at the silly parts, I knew I was in my zone.  I was not merely reading a story; I was acting.

In my last full-time teaching position, the read-alouds were part of the mandated curriculum.  They were fine stories.  We read and re-read them just as the teacher manual said to.  We even memorized a few.  But by the spring of that year, I realized that I was not having any fun.  And neither were my students.  I decided to bring in some of my favorite texts and, maybe at the expense of "required" material," share them with my kids.  It got most of us back on track.  At least it made my heart happy enough to finish the school year.

My hope for Clara is that she has teachers who have favorite books and love reading.  I hope that her teachers are able and willing to bring their passions to the classroom.  And I hope that I get to continue having story time with her every night for many more years to come.


  1. Oh, look at little Clara-so cute, Susan. I wonder how those powers could possibly choose boring books to read aloud! Amazing. There are so many lovely ones. I like the 'acting' term, exactly how ti worlds , isn't it? Thanks, proud of you for writing all month! Congratulations!

  2. I love how you would practice your read alouds the night before! That's the mark of a good teacher! Thanks for taking us on the journey, and for having the courage to do what was right- ditch those boring old required books in favor of engaging texts that get children to love reading! ;)