Yesterday was the first Read Aloud volunteer session of the new school year!
I bought the books over the summer and wrote the discussion questions for each class, and the volunteer readers met their classes in the morning for storytime. Each reader will stay with the same classroom all year long (many of them have been reading for the same teachers' classes for years!), so that the children get to know them and know what to expect at storytime and in discussion afterward, for the entire time they're at the school.
One of my goals with this program is to select titles that are age-appropriate and also suitable to the time of year. For example, a "getting to know you" or "new student feels shy or lonely" story is a good way to start off the year. General questions about students' activities and experiences are geared to gently introduce class discussion that will focus more on the stories' themes in future months.
It's important to consider the class's development and readiness for some of the more in-depth topics. Kindergarteners and first-graders often have a wide range of reading ability and attention span within a single class, and they'll make lots of progress over 9 months, so the books introduced in the fall may be simpler in concept and structure than the ones we'll read by the end of the year. In the 4th and 5th grades, I try to support the curriculum, especially when it comes to civil rights history. The books stay with the classroom libraries, as our gift to the school, so over several years a teacher will build up supplementary resources on those themes. Recurring topics include character development, anti-bullying, diversity, cooperation, conflict resolution, and other values that the school promotes.
These are the titles and questions for this month:
The Art Lesson, by Tomie dePaola
-What are some of your favorite things to do?
-Do you like to draw? If you could draw something right now, what would it be?
-Where are some places you shouldn’t draw?
-Why do you think Tommy didn’t want to copy the teacher’s picture?
An African Princess, by Lyra Edmonds
-What are princesses like? Where do they live? What do they wear? How do you know?
-Do you think Lyra is an African princess? Why do you think her Mama told her so?
No English, by Jacqueline Jules
-If you were in a place where you didn’t speak the language, what would help you?
-How could you help someone who feels lonely or uncomfortable?
My Brother Charlie, by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete
-What are some ways your family shows you love without saying “I love you”?
-There are some ideas in the back of the book about how to be accepting of kids with autism. Check those out and think about what you might do to help people feel more comfortable.
Rene Has Two Last Names, by Rene Colato Lainez
-Where does your name come from? Do you know what it means?
-Does anyone in the class have two last names, or two first names? How about a middle name? Nicknames?
-Are there times when different names are used for the same person? Do those names make you feel different to say them or to be called them? Do you not like any of the names you’re called?
Amelia’s Road, by Linda Jacobs Altman
-What month is your birthday? What happens during that month?
-What time do you get up in the morning? What do you do before you come to school?
-What is something that makes your home feel special?
Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen, by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
-Where did the soup kitchen get the food? Why do you think people gave it to the people who work there?
-Why doesn’t the boy want to talk to the man collecting cans?
-If you were going to make food for a lot of people, what would you want to make?
The Alphabet War, by Diane Burton Robb
-What do you know about dyslexia? (before reading story)
-How would you feel if the whole class could do something and you didn’t know how?
-Why did Adam get mad at Joshua? What are some things he could have said or done instead of kicking?
Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett
-How do you think Annabelle’s friends felt about their sweaters?
-Why was Annabelle happy? Why was the archduke unhappy?
-What are some ways you can spread happiness?
4 / 5
Our Friendship Rules, by Peggy Moss and Dee Dee Tardif
-Have you ever met someone you really wanted to like you? What did you do? Did they become your friend?
-Have you ever hurt someone’s feelings? What did you do to fix the problem?
-What are some good friendship rules?
Cinder Edna, by Ellen Jackson
-What makes Cinder Edna different from Cinderella?
-How do other people see them? How do they see themselves?
-What does it mean to live happily ever after?