Choosing a classroom read-aloud novel is one of the most common dilemmas in the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community.
Finding the right book to hold the attention of 30 or more kids with different interests and abilities can be a challenge.
And then there’s the problem of fitting the ‘reading aloud’ bit into a very busy school day.
It’s no wonder that teachers can feel like throwing their hands up and forgetting the whole thing.
But award-winning children’s author Sue Whiting has written a letter from the heart to outline some great reasons to persevere with reading aloud in the classroom – and, to make it easier, has put together some terrific tips for choosing a novel that will work well as a class read-aloud.
She’s even curated a list of ten fabulous Australian novels she thinks will work well for years 3-6.
Take it away Sue Whiting!
Read Aloud, Read Strong: why classroom read-alouds are important
Thank you for all that you do to nurture and educate our young people. Teaching is a challenging job, and an essential one, and I sincerely appreciate your professionalism and dedication.
I have one favour to ask of you though.
If you don’t already do so, could you please try to make time in your busy classroom timetables to read aloud to your students? I promise that you won’t regret it.
The kids will love it. And the time invested will be time well spent as the benefits are far-reaching and numerous. Plus, I think you will really enjoy it too. And that’s important also.
Reading aloud to your class provides a shared experience for the whole class, regardless of students’ abilities and can lead to great discussions, critical thinking, background knowledge development and improved comprehension.
It exposes kids to books that they may not read or are unable to read themselves (this is particularly important for struggling and reluctant readers).
It is integral in creating a reading and writing community/culture in the classroom, is a wonderful way to model fluent, expressive reading, and has been shown to develop listening skills and vocabulary. The list goes on …
But don’t take my word for it, here are two articles by literacy experts that explain the benefits more thoroughly:
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Yours in story,
PS: If you are keen to discover some tips for book selection keep reading …
How to select the right read-aloud novel for your class
Selecting the right novel is, of course, key to success of class read-alouds. The novel must tick many boxes for maximum benefit.
As a children’s author and former primary school teacher who is passionate about reading and writing for pleasure and creating reading/writing cultures in the primary classroom, nothing warms my heart more than a teacher dropping me a note to tell me they are reading one of my novels as their class read-aloud and how the kids are loving it.
I especially love it when I hear that the novel is causing robust discussions. Oh, how my heart swells.
It is no surprise then that I hope my latest novel Pearly and Pig and the Lost City of Mu Savan will also make a good class read-aloud, particularly for Grades 3-5.
So I decided to put the book to a “criteria” test to see if it measures up.
The below criteria are from this article on The Teacher Studio website.
•Is it LIKELY to be a new book for most of the students?
This one was easy. Pearly and Pig and the Lost City of Mu Savan is a new book for everyone! And while it is the second book in a series, it is a standalone adventure.
•Does it read aloud well?
This of course is subjective. I believe it does. I know teachers who read Pearly and Pig and the Great Hairy Beast (book #1) and said that it read aloud well. The chapters are short. There are cliff hanger endings, and I am confident that the many twists and turns and rising tension will engage young listeners.
•Is there something about the book that will connect students to our curriculum?
There are several connections:
– the importance of caring for the environment;
– the jungle/rainforest landscape, flora, fauna and habitats;
– ancient cultures and civilisations;
– world cultures;
– families, friends and relationships;
– and dealing with anxiety.
•Is it a text that will “stretch” the class–both in terms of the literary elements AND the themes involved?
This is a big yes to my mind. I imagine much lively discussion, not just about the characters and plot, but about some thought-provoking issues it raises in relation to family dynamics, trusting one’s abilities, true courage, dealing with anxiety, rising to the challenge, decision making, consumerism, the impacts of tourism, preservation of culture, conservation and so forth.
I also think that the novel could be used as a mentor text for writing, focusing on using sensory information to create vivid descriptions, show don’t tell and how to create rising tension. [Classroom ideas can be found here]
For more great tips, lists and criteria to help you select and benefit from your class novel, read this article by Australian Literacy Consultant Annette Gray at Primary Learning.
Finally, here is a list of ten great Australian children’s novels that I think fit the above criteria and would also make great class read alouds. Click the title to find out more about the book*.
10 great Australian children’s novels to read aloud to your class
The Book of Wondrous Possibilities by Deborah Abela
Paws by Kate Foster
Catch a Falling Star by Meg McKinlay
What About Thao? by Oliver Phommavanh
Evie and Rhino by Neridah McMullin
My Brother Ben by Peter Carnavas
The Fire Star by A. L. Tait
Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy
Haywire by Claire Saxby
Cop & Robber by Tristan Bancks
Happy reading! Read aloud. Read strong.
Sue Whiting is an award-winning children’s and YA author and editor and former teacher, who has worked in publishing for twenty+ years. Sue’s latest books are Tilda, a historical novel for readers 10+ and Pearly and Pig and the Lost City of Mu Savan, the second book in her new junior fiction series. Sue is passionate about the power of story and is an advocate for reading and writing for pleasure. Find out more.
Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.
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