What’s Your First Read-Aloud of the Year?

Someone on one of my lists just asked for suggestions for a beginning-of-the-year book to read-aloud to her new class and, of course, we all chimed in with our opinions. Since many of you are already back in school and some about to start, I hope you will tell us what you’ve chosen and why.  I’m still considering what I’m going to start with.

Last year my first book was The Invention of Hugo Cabret because I was doing a year-long study of silent movies (focusing on Charlie Chaplin) and it turned out to be a great choice (which surprised me as I wasn’t sure about how the image sections would work, but the did).  This year I’m still considering my options.  Maybe I’ll go for Frank Cotrell Boyce’s Cosmic which my students have always adored. Both are gender-neutral and aren’t particularly scary.  (For more recommendations, I’ve a bunch of posts about books that worked well for me here. )

My preference is to start with a book that is brand new so the kids are unlikely to know it and so right now I’m leaning toward Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright’s The Cheshire Cat Cheese.  I’m a hard-sell on animal stories, but was completely charmed by this one  and since we will start the year with a close look at Charlotte’s Web I’m thinking this may be just the ticket for a first read-aloud.

So enough about my choices, what are yours?



Filed under Reading Aloud, Teaching

23 responses to “What’s Your First Read-Aloud of the Year?

  1. Donalyn Miller

    Our first chapter book read aloud will be The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. It’s a funny book with a good message about how to treat each other. Discussing empathy is a year long goal. I know my sixth graders will enjoy Origami Yoda. We may read the new sequel, Darth Paper Strikes Back, too.


    • I remember you writing about this as a great read-aloud so thanks for commenting here about it. I also suspect that the episodic structure is another reason it works so well as a read-aloud.


  2. First read aloud will be Fig Pudding by Ralph Fletcher.


  3. I highy recommend Rob Buyea’s Because of Mr. Terupt. It was kid tested on all three of our fifth grade classes last year. They loved it.

    And I just finished reading Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Grenwald. I laughed out loud again and again. That author definitely has his fingers on the pulse of middle school kids.


  4. Mary Curry

    I generally do Jerry Spinelli’s Fourth Grade Rats first because everyone loves it and it’s a great intro to discussions about feelings/fears about 4th grade, friendship, peer pressure, etc. This year I’m doing a Roald Dahl author study in September so I’m still toying with reading one of his books instead.

    One of my favorite things about read alouds is when students from previous classes stop by and ask what we’re reading or say, “Oh, have you read … yet?” Or, “Are you up to the part where …?”


  5. My Father’s Dragon was always my favorite read-aloud when I taught kindergarten!


  6. Sam Bloom

    Ooh, I started the year a few times with My Father’s Dragon, too, but with 2nd graders! I also started various years with James and the Giant Peach, the Iron Giant (what a way to start the year – the first chapter of that book, when the Iron Giant falls into the ocean!)


  7. Lesley

    I once read No Talking, mostly because it was fun. Now I am thinking of reading it again as part of an exploration on the potential of silence – seeing as I am now Quaker and all.


  8. I have been reading this for a while now as the first for all the 4th graders: Sam Swope’s “Jack and the Seven Deadly Giants” — so much fun to share it with all the kids and it generates a lot of good chats and excitement.


  9. I just gave a teacher Knucklehead to read aloud, and it’s been popular.


    • Do you see it as working equally well as a read aloud for girls and boys? I’m thinking of that urinating bit, but then I just remembered that I used to read aloud Harris and Me with one to beat that!


  10. I just got the finished copy of Frank Cotrell Boyce’s The Unforgotten Coat and may read that. It is short and connects to our immigration theme…so maybe.


  11. My first chapter book will be EMILY’S FORTUNE (4th grade). It’s rollicking good fun with lots of cliffhangers, and it’s short. We’ll build up to longer books as the year goes on.


  12. I read The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me each year and then follow it with the first books in several series (Time Warp Trio, Bunnicula, Ramona). When they ask me to read the next one in a series I can say ‘No, now it’s your turn. Read it on your own!’


  13. JSloat

    Do you think A Tale Dark and Grimm would be too scary as our first read aloud? I teach a combined 4/5 class and plan to start the year with a Fairy Tale unit, so I wanted to reach out to the boys a bit.


    • Hmmm…I think it might be. That is, I wouldn’t start with it as I’d want a sense of the kids first. How about some picture books to start with to get a feel for them?


      • JSloat

        Okay – thanks for the suggestion. Pending early sense of children, maybe save it for around Halloween time. But school starts tomorrow, so any good recommendations of relevant picture books? We also study immigration this year . . .


  14. I think Halloween might be perfect. In fact, that may have been around when I started reading it last year.

    A fun short novel with a fairy tale premise that I’ve enjoyed reading aloud is Philip Pullman’s I Was a Rat!

    Or how about a wolf fest? Emily Gravett’s Wolves, Lauren Child’s Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book and Beware the Storybook Wolves, David Wiesner’s The Three Little Pigs, Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Ed Young’s Lon Po Po to name a few.

    Immigration? Do you have Shaun Tan’s The Arrival? Wordless, but wonderful.


  15. What did you start with? I always start with Sideways Stories from Wayside School, because many of my fifth graders haven’t had many read alouds, and need to be hooked. Now we’re on Edward Tulane, with Hugo Cabret on deck.


  16. I ended up first reading Frank Cotrell Boyce’s The Unforgotten Coat, a short book that connects to our year-long immigration study. Now I’m reading aloud The Cheshire Cat Cheese, partly because I like it and wanted to see how kids responded to it (as there are a lot of witty Dickens’ allusions they aren’t necessarily going to get) and because its talking animals link to our current E. B. White study.


  17. Pingback: In the Classroom: My First Read Aloud of the Year | educating alice

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