Category Archives: In the Classroom

In the Classroom: Reading Together and Alone

Donalyn Miller’s post “Let My People Read,” is about the sad reality of assigned summer reading that so many kids get. I’m with her 100% on the need to leave kids alone to read whatever they want over the summer. In fact, I’m happy to see more media attention given to the research indicating that the best way to keep kids reading over the summer is to give them books. Next week is our last of the year and I’ve got a book handpicked for each of my students to read (or not as they chose) over the summer.  Where Donalyn and I appear to differ is on the idea of  reading a book together as a class during the school year.

Don and I expressed dismay that another slew of great works will be slowly destroyed for our daughter during months-long novel studies next year.

Sigh. Now I understand the hatred many have for this approach to books and literature in school because it is often done badly. Billy Collins’ poem “Introduction to Poetry” makes me wince every time I read it. For I think that exploring a piece of great literature together can be wonderful, that it can be as fabulous a way to enjoy a poem as any other, that it is celebrating the work, not torturing it. Certainly I had my share of boring novel studies throughout my schooling, but I also had some amazing ones. I remember the excitement of reading The Iliad and Odyssey together with my 8th grade English teacher and an incredible college class where we delved into Goethe’s Faust. And so I feel strongly that we teachers should do the occasional novel unit — one where the class becomes a community, helping each other in an exploration of a particular work of literature.  

Turn the class into a book club like the ones we participate in as adults. The kids can then experience the book together, responding to it in real time, exclaiming, becoming choked up, being surprised when someone he/she doesn’t know has the same response to a particular moment, gaining insight from another peer, and so forth. Reading the same book for school is, to my mind, a social experience not one done in solitude. I do this with the books I read aloud, but I also do it with books the kids read. This year we started the year reading Charlotte’s Web together and ended in literature circles with The One and Only Ivan. Loving each book by itself, finding wonderful images and pieces of writing, seeing connections between the two — all of this and more made both experiences exhilarating ones.  

I believe in giving kids ample choice in what they read, but I also believe in the power of shared literary explorations.  To me close reading, whole class book study, and so forth can be a joy not a horror.

2 Comments

Filed under In the Classroom

In The Classroom: Does Spelling Matter?

The title of Simon Horobin’s book poses what, at first blush, seems a banal question. I imagine most readers would answer “Yes, spelling matters”, perhaps adding “though not as much as some believe”. Yet if the question of how words should be written is not uppermost in many people’s minds, its nagging everyday presence is nonetheless evident in the existence of spell-checkers and school spelling tests, as well as in mnemonics designed to help us with spellings, such as the venerable “i before e except after c”.

So begins Henry Hitchings’ very interesting Guardian review of Simon Horobin’s book Does Spelling Matter?  As one of those highly challenged when it comes to spelling, this is always of great interest to me.  In fact, I feel one of the many ways computers turned me into a writer were their non-judgmental spell checkers — I could get a ton of errors and no one besides me and my little computer would ever know.

Next week I will be doing one of my favorite lessons with my fourth grade class — having them “translate” a few pages of Mourt’s Relation, the 1620 publication of the Pilgrims, in its original form which means unconventional spelling. Understandably, fourth graders love it!

As a teacher I think spelling matters because we all want to be able to read what the other writes and some sort of standard spelling makes that possible.  I tell my students that they should want their readers to notice what they have to say and not be distracted by spelling errors.  Being a poor speller myself and a professional writer I’m able to help them understand the importance of being able to independently correct spelling without feeling a shame about it.

We still use an old-fashioned spelling workbook in my classroom with a weekly spelling test.  I feel it isn’t so much about learning spelling rules as much as it is study skills — becoming adept at figuring out written directions in the book as they will have to do in standardized tests, having to memorize a bunch of words as they will when they begin foreign language in 5th grade, and so forth. (Of course, we also do a lot of work separately with their writing and proofreading.) I’m curious — do other classroom teachers out there still use such programs? If not, how do you teach spelling?

5 Comments

Filed under In the Classroom

In the Classroom: Battling Books

Tomorrow the fifth annual Battle of the Kids’ Books gets underway with a match between Bomb and Wonder judged by Kenneth Oppel.  Now some, I know, are uncomfortable with the concept of books in battle, but I wish they wouldn’t be.  In fact, the idea is for sixteen well-lauded books from the year before to be highlighted and admired again in a new and different way. What our judges do is thoughtful and  in-depth, considering the two books they have been asked to judge and, in a variety of ways, coming up with a winner for this contest. Just with any tournament, all the contenders are great and it is just how things play out on this particular day that makes for a particular match winner. Another day and different judges and a different winner might well be the result (as is the case with pretty much all awards and contests).

I’m writing about this within a classroom context because this contest has been a terrific one for young people. Roxanne Feldman and I (the two-person Battle Commander) have been involving our students in the Battle for the last two years.  Last year we introduced two very fine Kid Commentators (who will be back this year) and this year we had 5th-8th graders write introductions for the contenders.  That is, each assumed the role of one of the actual books, and did a terrific job with it.  (Those are here, here, here, and here.) This is something any teacher or librarian can do! In fact, we hope to expand this beyond our own students and school next year.

And that isn’t the only thing that is possible in schools and libraries.  A high school library in Texas contacted us to let us know she was running the contest in her school. Others have told us of displays, bracket pools, and more.  Every time we hear of this we are delighted because we’ve always hoped for the involvement of young people. Most of all I aspired to a Shadow BoB like the Shadowing Site done for the UK Carnegie Award (comparable to our Newbery).  In that, young people read and vote and often come up with a completely different winner from the official judges.  It would be so cool to do something like that for the BoB.

Meantime, I do encourage teachers (especially those put off by the battle metaphor) to take a look and think about how they might want to use it in their own teaching and schools.  And let us know if you do!

1 Comment

Filed under Battle of the (Kids') Books, In the Classroom

In the Classroom: A Few Classroom Teaching Suggestions from an Introverted Teacher

I’d been aware of Susan Cain, but hadn’t really looked into her until now, prompted by the recent todo regarding the teaching of introverts. In her Ted talk , she reinforces a number of my beliefs and practices as a veteran  introverted teacher. Here are some of them:

  • Quiet time. Because there was a time when any sort of classroom talk was harshly subdued, many experts have since encouraged a lot of classroom talk.  I’ve always found that hard, no doubt because of my introvert nature, one that needs a fair amount of quiet.  And so I’ve always made time for chatter and time for quiet.  When my students read it is quiet. Most of all, when they write it is quiet.  I give each of them a so-called “office,” a space a bit apart from the rest so that they can be alone with their work and their thoughts. We talk about what do when stuck, how to operate without involving someone else.  Many writing experts encourage talk during writing time, but not me. I keep the lights down (in fact, I have a bunch of those little battery-operated portable lamps that the kids bring to their desks if they need more light) and there is a serene calmness that they all appreciate.  
  • Talk time.  When we are talking, I watch every child and I can absolutely see that those who don’t speak up are attending and thinking and are on top of everything. I’m tough with those kids who love to speak without having something to say. I feel we so overvalue this sort of aimless talk . I see it so often in my school, at assemblies, and elsewhere.  Say when we go on museum trips and the educator happily asks my students for questions. Before long those who like to hear themselves talk come up with more and more, many rather random and unconsidered. I have kids who wave their hands, eager to be called on, and when you do have forgotten what they wanted to say.  I have kids who, when I ask a question, raise their hands and ignore mine to say something else, to ask their own question (not bothering to wait for the time when they are invited to do). Not only do I think a lot about the questions I ask, but when I ask them I also include a lot of wait time to allow everyone an equal chance to answer, those who need time to formulate and answer as well as those who jump in without thinking.
  • Small group critiques.  While I actually enjoy collaborating, it is with people I’ve chosen to work with, people who complement me. I’ve never liked being tossed together in a random group of people to do something.  One of my most memorable and hateful experience of this was long ago at a writer’s workshop for educators at Martha’s Vineyard.  The first day of the course we were told to make up our critique groups.  Many of the attendees had been coming for years, knew each others, and quickly formed groups.  I ended up in a random group of those left over.  I remember being furious about this, it felt like the quintessential case of the popular kids shutting out the unpopular ones.  Having people, strangers, critique your work is hard. For the workshop teacher to so carelessly not think about this is something I never forgot.  And so I do not have my kids critique each other in small groups. Instead I model and guide them in how to do it as a whole class. I have kids volunteer to be critiqued, talk a lot beforehand about safe things to say, and so forth. Each is given a postit to write notes as they listen.  I then read the work aloud without identifying the child. I insist we focus on the WORK and not the author. Even if the kids know who the author is we act as if we don’t.  The author is not allowed to respond to the critique.  I usually start with some comments to model how to do it, but the kids quickly do it themselves beautifully.  (I got the idea for this from a writing workshop I took years ago at the New School run by the legendary Bunny Gabel.)
  • Small group work. I don’t have my students do a lot of work in groups because I know how many dislike it, how certain kids get stuck doing more of the work, the way the extroverts and introverts disagree, and generally have seen it not work. Just this past week I asked my students to do a quick self-evaluation of themselves using our report card checklist and one child wrote that he hated to work in groups because “no one listens to me.”  It was also telling that working in groups was one of the few items my students commented upon (most just did the checks), always about how they didn’t like it. Until recently I always thought I was a lesser teacher for being unable to make such children feel valued when doing group work in my classroom. It is only now, after listening to Susan Cain, that I can say it is not my fault, but something we all need to take more into account. That group work isn’t necessarily better. I still do occasional group work as kids need to have experience with it, but take into account how to make it work for introverts and extroverts. Sometimes it is just a small-stakes situation and the kids are fine. After having not done them in a few years because I couldn’t seem to get them to work, last year I did a literature circle unit and was very pleased with it and so plan to do one again this year.  I had the kids spend time at the beginning negotiating contracts as to how they would work together, the book was meaty, and the final project fun (a board game).  It wasn’t always easy, but I’m hoping to give it another try this year and see if I can get it to work better, especially for those who normally hate working in groups. We shall see.
  • Written communication. I feel very, very strongly about always providing a way for kids to communicate with me in writing — not a random “you can just drop me a note” sort of thing, but something built into the curriculum.  The extroverts tend to dash things off as they happily let me know about their lives by talking to me, but the introverts are often very different. For the first half of the year I use dialog journals. In January we give the kids email and I regularly write each child and encourage them to reply.  There are always a few who flower with this, those who have been quiet in class, who don’t dash in every morning with something to tell me, those who like to quietly let me know about their ideas, their lives, and such via an email. I learn about pain, about happiness, and more through these.
  • Time to think.  I need it so I’m sure there are kids in my class who need it too. And so I always allow time after asking a question for kids to think. Sometimes I give them all postits to write down their thoughts so not to forget them.  I watch them and try to be sure that those who are tentative have a chance to speak too if they want to.
  • Class participation.  I do not use this as my primary way of determining what a child knows.  I do pay attention to it and there are kids who are awesome public speakers and communicators and I absolutely celebrate them.  But I also do not over-value this particular form of communication. If a child never speaks I do note that and try to help him or her because they need to be able to do so, their future teachers will demand it. However, I do not make a big thing of it. I also do a lot to make my classroom a very safe place for speaking up and generally it is rare I have a student who does not occasionally speak up because of this.

10 Comments

Filed under In the Classroom

In The Classroom: An introvert teaching every sort of kid.

Thanks to Liz Burns who led me to the article “Introverted Kids Need to Learn to Speak Up at School.” written by an extroverted middle school teacher.  I’m an introverted middle school teacher, shy on top of it*, and so have a very different take on this.  First of all, not every part of the world or culture necessarily views outspokenness as necessary as we often do in the United States.  I’ve had teachers complain about children who do not look them in the eye when those children come from cultures where doing so is considered impolite.  Secondly, as someone who feels her best way of communicating is by writing, I think it is important to acknowledge and respect all ways of sharing our views and knowledge.  Of course, we teachers do need to support all our students, provide safe ways for them to speak up, to help those who are reticent to feel confident to make the occasional comment, but to make that a requirement, to grade it, to privilege that as something necessary for success, I don’t agree.

* My admission of being shy may be a surprise to those who know me in the children’s lit world, but  out of my element, in a situation where I don’t know anyone, I am very different.

6 Comments

Filed under In the Classroom

Reading Aloud The Hobbit

For years one of my favorite books to read aloud to my 4th graders was The Hobbit.  Tolkien’s narrative voice, the adventures, Bilbo, Smaug, the riddles, the wit, everything about it was just great fun.  The last time I did so was when Jackson’s Lord of the Ring movies were starting to come out so it has been a while and I’d been debating to do so again.

Regarding that movie, having not seen it yet (though I will later today) I’ve been trying very, very, very hard not to be harsh about what Jackson is doing with the story — adding in stuff from elsewhere, stretching out the one novel into three movies, changing what is a lovely singular adventure story into a massive epic…and so on.  But still…there is no way it is going to be the charming story I remember. I do get that it is what Tolkien later wanted — to rework what was originally a plain children’s story into a prequel for the LOTR, but to mind something is lost by doing so.

And so what a pleasure to come across (via Mr. Schu) Mark Guarino’s article, “‘The Hobbit’ is a tale that begs to be read aloud.” Guarino and those he interviewed capture beautifully what indeed made the book such fun to read aloud, notably that slightly intrusive omniscient third person narrator.

1 Comment

Filed under Classic, In the Classroom, Reading Aloud

The BEST Way to Teach Classical Writers and Books

I love today’s Nerdy Book Club post, Melissa Williamson’s “Tales of Adoration $ Appreciation.”  In it, Melissa describes her passion for Edgar Allen Poe and how she successfully communicated that passion to her students.  While as teachers we want to encourage our students to find their own passions as readers I feel there is a place to also model and share ours with them just as Melissa did with her students. She used her own enthusiasm, comics, visuals, public speaking, and more to excite her own students with the work of this classical writer.

I do something similar with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. That is, through my excitement and the activities I do, my students become as infatuated with that book as I am. I read aloud the book, stopping along the way for my class to try out a quadrille, play a bit of indoor croquet, and explore various logic and mathematical tricks along the way.  And we always end with a project. For  years it was a new kid-illustrated and annotated version, then we did toy theater puppet shows, and last year we did book trailers.

I encourage other teachers to do this as well.  What may appear old and tired can come alive with the personal passion of a creative and talented teacher!

1 Comment

Filed under Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Classic, In the Classroom, Teaching

Interview: Philip Pullman on his Retelling the Grimm Fairy Tales

Philip Pullman is one of the most thoughtful and creative writers of our day. Best know for the brilliant trilogy His Dark Materials, the former middle school teacher is also a longtime reteller and creator of fairy tales. While I’m partial to his lively online version of “Mossycoat” (first published as a picture book) and the original story I Was a Rat! because of my work with Cinderella, I’ve found all his fairy tales whether retellings or original to be utterly delightful. And so when he told me a few years ago that he was working on a new collection of Grimm fairy tales I was not surprised. Over several magical meals (I’m honored to call him a friend) we talked intensively about his research for this project and I couldn’t wait to read the final version. Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm is now out and it is as excellent as I had hoped. Happily others feel as I do and it is being enthusiastically received by adult and children’s book reviewers alike.

There are a number of terrific interviews with Philip about this project, but I thought that one focusing more on young readers and those who work with them might be of interest. Philip was game so here are my questions and his answers.

To start, I’m intrigued that the UK title is Grimm Tales for Young and Old while the US is Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm. Why the change? 

Publishers like to put their stamp on titles. I have never fathomed why. Arthur Levine (I assume it was him) even changed the title of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which made sense, into HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which made no sense at all. I can’t actually remember being consulted about Grimm. I have to say I prefer the UK title, but I tend to shrug about these things.

You have always been such an advocate of storytelling. I can remember you urging teachers like myself to learn stories to tell to our students, something I know you did a lot of.  And I also recall feeling guilty as I never did this, preferring to read aloud. I could absolutely sense your pleasure in selecting, retelling, and tweaking these stories. How do you think your background as a teacher and teacher of teachers came into this work?  If you were teaching today would you read or tell some of these tales? Or how about to your grandchildren? Any in particular?  Do you see any limitations due to age or anything else?

All kinds of things come into play when we think about reading versus telling. Maybe reading has a greater sense of ‘authority’ – it comes out of a book! It’s been published! But maybe telling has a greater sense of intimacy and immediacy. If I were still a teacher I’d make a point of learning a dozen of these stories well enough to be able to tell them without the book – probably not the most gruesome ones: for that you probably need a mixed audience so the younger children can hide their faces in a parent’s shoulder. But facing a class I would, as I say, make a point of knowing them well enough after many private rehearsals to do without the book and then begin to make little inventions here and there to bring it even more vividly to life.

What really struck me reading these is how playful you are in your alterations and embellishments. Say the hilarious commentary of the three little men of “The Three Little Men in the Woods” or having the wife in “The Fisherman and his Wife” call her husband a defeatist. I especially enjoyed how you upped the ante in “Hans-My-Hedgehog.”

The Grimms:
The king had ordered that if anyone should approach who was carrying bagpipes and riding on a rooster, that he should be shot at, struck down, and stabbed, to prevent him from entering the castle.

Yours:
The king had given strict orders that if anyone approached the palace playing the bagpipes and riding on a cockerel, they should be shot, stabbed, bombed, knocked down, blown up, strangled, anything to prevent them from entering.

Any thing you’d like to say about these delightful touches? Where you place them and why, perhaps? Or anything else you’d like to tell us?

I’m glad you like them! Another one I enjoyed was having the giant say “Respect!” to the little tailor, and the frightened soldiers protest that they couldn’t fight him because having killed seven at a blow he was a weapon of mass destruction. And so on. I thought that if a story was light-hearted enough to start with, it could bear a bit more fooling around. The story I call “Farmerkin’, which is normally rendered as ‘Farmer Little’, is another example. But I wouldn’t have thought it right to play about with ‘The Juniper Tree’, for example, or ‘Hansel and Gretel’. Wrong tone altogether.

I don’t think I did any of that stuff with deliberate forethought, though. It just leapt into my fingers as I wrote. If the story-sprite laughs, then I laugh too.

How did you select the tales?  I can certainly see that some are personal favorites, but some are quite odd, not always likable, and you even say that in your notes. Yet you included them. Why?

The only one I actively dislike is “The Girl Without Hands’, but I put it in because there were some things I wanted to say about it. I had a completely free hand when it came to choosing the stories, and I was very glad of it. I felt I had to put in all the famous ones – though actually there are fewer than we think of those – because people would expect them to be there, and it would be silly to leave them out. I would have put them in anyway, in fact, because they are so good – they’re famous for good reasons. As for the others, they were there because I found them interesting to talk about, such as ‘The Goose Girl at the Spring’, or because I found them powerful and strange, like ‘Hans-my-Hedgehog’, or because I was just fond of them, like ‘Lazy Heinz’ or ‘The Moon’.

Your notes are simply wonderful. As I told you before, I think nothing beats your suggestion of what to do with Thousand Furs’ father, but you’ve got others too. Say your consideration of Disney’s Snow White film, how it is such a pull on any new telling of the original tale, and most delightfully that his dwarfs are “toddlers with beards.”  Or how you resolved the dilemma of how many pieces to cut the snake in “The Three Snake Leaves.” Given the clear depth of your background reading, how did you decide what to put into these notes? Is there anything you reluctantly left out that you might want to tell us now?

Thank you. I’m always glad when people praise my notes, because I think they do say things that I think are worth saying. I was certain from the beginning that I wanted to follow each story with a few paragraphs (or less, or more) of commentary, and I wanted it to come immediately after the story and not tucked away at the back. The editors were happy to let me do it – in fact they were remarkably non-interfering throughout the whole process. I didn’t want to overburden the notes with scholarly stuff, because others – Jack Zipes, Maria Tatar – have done it already better than I ever could, and because my emphasis was always on how the story worked. I don’t think there’s anything important that I left out, but as I continue to think and talk about the stories I might think of a few more things to put in.

For those in particular who work with children and/or their books is there anything in particular you would want to say to them about these tales, about the Grimms, or about storytelling in general?

The one thing I’d emphasise to the most important people in this situation, namely students who are going to be teachers (most important because it’s in the early stages that we form all our habits), is this: whenever you can, don’t read stories like this to children: get them firmly into your head and tell them, face to face, without a book in your hands. These tales are not literature, which is written, they’re something else. I know it’s nerve-racking to put the book down and just tell, because the book is a protection in many ways (not least: if the session fails, you can blame the book instead of yourself). But it doesn’t really take much memory-effort to learn a story like The Little Tailor or The Three Little Men in the Woods. I don’t mean learn all the words by heart – far from it. I mean get the events in your head so you can relate them easily and confidently. If every young teacher could take the trouble to get two or three dozen stories in their head so they could tell them at a moment’s notice – and they’re not very big, they pack down very flat, there’s plenty of room for them in your brain – then they would never be at a loss how to fill that odd ten minutes at the end of a day, or how to calm down a class if they’re fractious and over-excited during a day when it’s raining and they can’t get out to run around, or if they want to start off a new project. And what’s more they last like nothing else. When thirty or forty years later you meet by chance one of the kids you used to teach, the one thing they’ll remember is that story you told that Friday afternoon about Orpheus and Eurydice, or The Goose-Girl, or Hades and Persephone, or Hansel and Gretel. They’ll forget Pythoagoras’s theorem or the names of the first five American Presidents or the principal exports of Brazil, but the story will still be there, and they’ll be grateful for it. Nothing is so valuable, so lasting, so deeply loved as stories. Why would anyone not seize at once, with both hands, the immense privilege of telling stories, when it’s so easy to achieve?

Oh, Philip, clearly you won’t let me off the hook and so I will now try to get past my self-consciousness and attempt to learn some tales to tell to my own students. Certainly yours are the perfect source material for that. My great thanks for taking the time to answer these questions.  

To end, this lovely book trailer with a taste of Philip’s storytelling prowess:

also at Huffington Post

6 Comments

Filed under fairy tales, His Dark Materials, Huffington Post, In the Classroom, Philip Pullman

In the Classroom: Real and Fictional Hurricanes

Anyone that says he ain’t scared in a hurricane is a liar or a fool. That’s what the Colonel says. A hurricane spins up like you’re nothing, and takes your world apart like it’s nothing too. There’s no time in it, no sense of the sun moving, no waxing or waning light. All you can do is breathe and ignore the world flying to pieces beyond your door.

I’m looking forward to seeing my 4th graders tomorrow after a week apart. And as I reworked my lesson plans it hit me that we would be in the midst of another hurricane, the one in the climax of Sheila Turnage’s Three Times Lucky. I have to say that the idea that my New York City kids would be listening to this book after their own serious hurricane experience was the last thing on my mind when I decided it would be our first read-aloud of the year.

I decided because Sheila’s publisher brought her to town in early October and we were one of several schools she visited. It turned out that she and her book have been great hits. After every session I am surrounded by children wondering who, who, who killed Mr. Jesse. Their answers shift constantly as they learn more. And they knew that hurricane was coming, the one in the book much more than the one we just experienced.

I was incredibly touched when just as I was making my own hurricane preparations a little over a week ago, Sheila emailed with some very smart tips for dealing with a hurricane. She’s been through a few. Now I had already planned to fill up the bathtub, but others she provided were surprisingly useful given that Sheila lives in rural North Carolina and I live in urban New York.

I should say that while Sheila’s book has plenty of scary moments, I don’t think they are anything my hurricane-experienced fourth graders can’t handle. Last week it was the real Hurricane Sandy. This week it is the fictional Hurricane Amy.

1 Comment

Filed under In the Classroom

In the Classroom: My First Read Aloud of the Year

I have one more week to figure out my first read aloud book of the year.  I’ve got several in mind, but I’m still unsure which will end up being THE ONE.  Last year at this time, having the same dilemma, I asked others what they were selecting.  I ended up with Frank Cotrell Boyce’s The Unforgotten Coat as it related beautifully to our year-long focus on migration and immigration.  I’m considering starting with it again, but others tantalize me too.

I love to read aloud books that are almost, but not yet out yet. This way, if my students get hooked, they cannot go out on their own to find and read the book, but have to experience with the whole class and me together, all at the same time.  (When I do read a book that is available I make them promise not to get it while I’m reading it to them.)  Or a really, really old book that is out, but they don’t know.  A couple of years ago when I first did a year-long study of Charlie Chaplin I started with Brian Selznick‘s The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  I wondered if it would work as a read aloud, but it did, beautifully.

This year I’m considering Sheila Turnage‘s Three Times Lucky because I like it and because there is a possibility that she may visit us next month. I’m also wondering about Adam Gidwitz‘s terrific new book, In a Glass Grimmly, as he will definitely be coming again to work with our fourth graders this winter as he did two years ago though I’m leaning against it as I need to know my class first to see what their tolerance for gore is and also because our librarian may be reading it to them.  Another that I’m considering very seriously is Rebecca Stead‘s Liar & Spy.  Since I prefer to select read aloud books that aren’t terribly long so that any child who isn’t heavily into whatever I’m reading aloud (and since taste is so varied there are bound to be a few in my class) doesn’t have to suffer endlessly this one is very attractive on that score as well as being simply terrific otherwise.

Meantime, while I fret over this decision,  enjoy this delightful video from fellow fourth grade teacher Colby Sharp with the books others have selected.

7 Comments

Filed under In the Classroom, Reading Aloud