Reading Out Loud
I love reading out loud. Of course when I read to myself I do so silently, but I enjoy reading aloud to my children and to my students. With my own children I can make funny voices, or use accents, but the best part is watching them while I read. The same goes for reading aloud in the classroom. I love to look up a child who is being read to and see their facial reaction to a scene. Better yet is when they laugh, gasp or get emotional. It allows me to fully appreciate what the child is relating to. When they hear something they sympathize with, they let it be known, and watching a child react to a piece of literature has always pleased me.
I recently read Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to my eight-year-old son. When we read about Peter, the main character, feeling frustrated about his little brother, Patrick (my son) couldn't help but raise an eyebrow. When Peter's little brother made a mess of things, I can tell Patrick was remembering how his little sister exhibits the exact same behaviours, and he sighed with understanding. These reactions are small, but to a teacher and out-loud reader, they show insight, comprehension and the sudden awareness that we are not alone in how we feel.
I started reading the novel Every Day by David Levithan (see my Top Ten list for more great books) out loud to my secondary three (grade nine) class and as the author touched on themes about relationships that the students could connect to, they had to comment. When I read "All we ever want if for things to be okay", one student said, "That is so true." When the main character feels loss for the girl who he/she has fallen for, many students reacted with, "But that is so sad", and when Justin doesn't treat Rhiannon with the most respect, one girl spoke out, "This is so my life." These comments were made while I was reading, mid sentence, without me asking for feedback. They couldn't help themselves because even after only 18 pages of the novel, they felt like they were being understood, which is a much greater accomplishment on the part of the author than simply having his book understood by the readers.
Reading aloud is fun. Most kids enjoy being read to. I have enough proof of that, but the astonishing part for me and my students is that although most of them state that they don't like reading, they enjoy hearing the story. Although all my students can read the words on the page, they need practice in reading with the proper tone and cadence. This is the reason I choose to read to them. I could assign the chapters for homework and save time, and my voice, but I would never get to see or discuss their initial reactions to the read. This is what I really love about it.