I got a message via Facebook recently from a young man I taught in grade five. He is now a college graduate. He wanted to know the name of a book I had read aloud to his class about a Chinese prince who goes in search of a legendary kingdom. The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander had left a lasting impression and for some reason, my former student wanted to find the book again.
Because I switched to teaching high school for the last six years of my career I often had students in my grade 10,11 and 12 English classes who had also been my students when I was an elementary school teacher. When they would talk to me about the things I had done with them in class in grade three or four or five one of the first things they would always mention were the books I had read aloud to them. ” I remember The Shakespeare Stealer or Island of the Blue Dolphins or Shiloh or Charlotte’s Web or A Wrinkle in Time or Anne of Green Gables.” What they remembered best were the books!
I talk to many people who never had a chapter book read aloud to them by their teacher during their school years and there are still many classrooms where it is not done. I think that’s sad! Reading a novel aloud to children every day from grades one to twelve should be mandatory as far as I’m concerned.
And by the way, I read novels aloud to my high school students too. Reading a chapter of a book aloud to my students was always my favorite part of the day as a teacher and I’m realizing that it was often also the most memorable part of their school days for my students.
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