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.



Filed under In the Classroom, Reading Aloud

7 responses to “In the Classroom: My First Read Aloud of the Year

  1. Linda

    Determining the right books to read aloud was always a challenge for me…especially with my younger children. The teachers had read so many to the children that I had to always search for something intriguing that the children had not heard. My favorite time was when the boxes of new books were delivered to the library, and I had first choice. Of course, then my dilemma was deciding this, that, this one. I read a different book to each class and then one lucky student got to check it out. The memories still remain.


  2. Gayle Stein

    This was fantastic! My 5th grade teachers are starting off with WONDER too. Is there a place where I can see the titles of all the first read alouds? I could not see all of the titles. Thanks



  3. This makes me miss the classroom so much! Maybe I can come visit yours again when I’m in NYC the week of Oct. 7. Have a wonderful first day and a great school year!


  4. We just finished Three Times Lucky as our bedtime read-aloud. (My kids are 7 and 10.) HUGE hit. So much so that if they were being annoying, I’d threaten not to read it and they’d shape up immediately. Now that’s a powerful book. :) And just so FUN to read aloud, and (to us) successful as a mystery. We figured out pretty quickly that a certain character was a bad guy, but not the hows and wherefores of it all.

    We’re on to Each Little Bird That Sings now. After I stopped weeping on Night One (it made me miss my own dad so much) we’re coasting along. Not quite as gripping for them as Three Times Lucky (so far) but still enjoyable. Our other big successful summer-night read was Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang sequel. I was glad, since we had to stop The Unforgotten Coat a couple of chapters in because it scared and upset my older kid. Boyce’s Cosmic is, I think, the single best read-aloud we’ve EVER had because they loved it and I was utterly head-over-heels nutballs mad for it. Everybody wins!


  5. fairrosa

    Glad to see the Three Times Lucky is getting good response! I already decided on my first book for 4th grade library classes this fall: In a Glass, Grimmly.


  6. This post, the video, and all the comments are a heartwarming reminder of what I loved most about teaching, and what now, in retirement, I most miss—ALSO why I feel so lucky to have my grandchildren living in my house—meaning I get to read aloud again—yay. We just finished Harriet the Spy last night. Lots of spying going on in our house these days, in costume complete with notebook and pencil. Be still my heart.

    Would love to see a post of read aloud titles that can bridge the listening gap between 5 yr olds and 8 yr olds. I know you are more classroom oriented than family—but I’ll bet you have a few titles in mind that can interest multiple ages.


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