WRAD Blogging Challenge – Week 1

Feb 15, 2014 by

LitWorld has launched a blogging challenge to spread the word about World Read Aloud Day. The theme is “Raising Our Voices” and this is the prompt for week #1:

What is your earliest or fondest memory in which someone read aloud to you?

Upon reading this question, one name came to mind instantaneously: Mr. Coleman.

Mr. Coleman, my fifth grade teacher, read to our class every day after lunch. He introduced me to some of my favorite books of all time- The Phantom Tollbooth, How to Eat Fried Worms, and From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Aside from the fact that he obviously understood the power of a good book by selecting some of the best children’s books ever to be written, I love that he knew how important it was to read to us. We fifth graders were surely able to read on our own, but the rich world of literature was brought to life when Mr. Coleman read to us. These books and that experience have lived with me into adulthood, and I have passed the gift along. I remember stumbling upon The Phantom Tollbooth at a bookstore when my son was a baby. He wouldn’t be ready for that read for many years, but I had to buy it, because I was surely going to be sharing it! Later, when I became a teacher, I bought a copy for my classroom to share with students, and last year, I was excited to connect this book with our celebration of 12/12/12, a date that I found related beautifully to the character, The Dodecahedron from Digitopolis.

Today, I know that Mr. Coleman’s example informs my teaching. I know the power of a good book and a quiet space in which to bring the words to life and to collectively share a great story. To laugh and to cry together. To marvel at the words spun by a gifted author. To discuss the ideas and feelings brought to light. When I read aloud, whether to an audience of one or of many, I bring forth the theatrical elements that I remember Mr. Coleman employed, and I delight in the rapt attention of my reading audience. In those moments, our humanity is revealed and we are connected to one another, in joy and sorrow, frustration and celebration, sharing and caring. This simple act of bonding over a book is transformative.

Mr. Coleman is the only teacher I remember reading aloud, and I have often marveled at how far those strands have stretched into my life and my future and then extended with others whose lives are partly touched by Mr. Coleman and the love of reading he shared with a fifth grade class so long ago.

In my third grade classroom, this will be the first time we celebrate World Read Aloud Day. We will, of course, mark the event by having a read aloud, but what we will read and what else we will do is something we will discuss in the coming days. Until then, we will continue to enjoy daily read alouds.  We are currently reading Kate DiCamillo’s latest Newbery winner, Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. Holy bagumba! What a great read it is!

If you want to get involved and celebrate World Read Aloud Day, visit litworld.org/worldreadaloudday for more information and ideas, and be sure to share your thoughts here, too!

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