It's August and I'm thinking, pretty much nonstop, about going back to school. Every year, one of the very first things I do is prepare for read aloud. I grab a big wicker basket and fill it with great read alouds. Then I put that basket in our reading corner, right next to the rocking chair. After that's done, I can do the less important stuff, like moving desks around and sharpening pencils.
I teach (and have always taught) in urban settings. Most of my kids don't have a lot of experience with read aloud. Some don't even have much experience with books. I work really hard, then, to make sure that our first read alouds are fun.
I look for books with language that sticks in kids' mouths and minds and hearts. I want the kind of books that kids chant on the playground at recess and go home and share, verbatim, with their families and younger siblings. I want books that they search out and share (and ok, sometimes even fight over, in our classroom).
Poetry fits the bill perfectly. One series I have loved for the past several years is Bob Raczka's collection on seasons. These books are simple- usually just one word or sentence on a page. The language is strong and memorable, e.g.
Who loves the fall?
Passers, Punters, Pumpkin hunters
Trickers, Treaters, Turkey eaters.
"Divers, swimmers, flat rock skimmers.
Joggers, walkers, sidewalk chalkers.
SNOWY BLOWY WINTER-
windows are glowy,
A groundhog shows up at the end
"Six more weeks of snowy blowy...seedy squirrelly winter!"
Sunning, warming, thunderstorming
"Biking, blading, lemonading
Kids love these books!
And a few added bonuses. We can revisit the books later during mini-lessons on unknown words, parts of speech or suffixes. Also, Raczka has lots and lots of other books for kids to discover/love a little later in their reading lives. Two of my favorites are LEMONADE and GUYKU.
And some really good news- the publisher, Albert Whitman and Company, has donated a copy of SNOWY BLOWY. Make a comment down below and I'll draw a name tomorrow around noon.
Even more good news-- Albert Whitman is giving away books all over kidlitosphere this weekend. To see a complete list of the giveaways, head over to the Albert Whitman website.
Margaret is hosting POETRY FRIDAY at Reflections on the Teche.