May 17, 2011

Discouraging Read-Alouds

I forgot to post my monthly GLMA blog post, so here it is:

I heard a horrible rumor about a school librarian that was actually discouraging teachers in his/her school from read alouds.  I’m not one to listen to gossip and especially not one to share it but I’ve been thinking about this ever since and so feel compelled to write about it. Now, like most rumors, I doubt this one is true. A librarian?  Discouraging teacher read-alouds?  That would be kind of like a dentist discouraging you to brush your teeth wouldn’t it?
Maybe I misheard.  Maybe the gossiper meant the librarian was encouraging read-alouds.  Yeah, that must have been it.  But then, why would anyone be talking about that?  That’s what we spend a good deal of our time on, isn’t it?  I know not only am I actually reading aloud to classes but I’m often showing teachers new books that would be good read-alouds, suggesting more when they bring one up to check out and updating lists on the wiki of good read-alouds for certain grades and subjects.
As one of my favorite children’s lit. professors used to constantly reiterate: “Read aloud every day in every subject.”
My art teacher was delighted when I shared Chalk and Pete the Cat with her this year.  I’ve done much the same for many of the teachers in the building in a variety of subjects.  Yes, there are great non-fiction red-alouds!  Yes, you can turn that into an easy and fun reader’s theater! Yes, yes, yes!
The only problem I’ve ever heard with read-alouds is when someone doesn’t correctly match up their students and the book being read.  Often this comes from inexperienced or lazy teachers who haven’t read the book.  At one school I worked in, a fourth grade teacher picked up The Giver.  Maybe because it had an award on it, I don’t know.  It was a little much for that class and one student, upset at the ending, complained to parents.  The media committee in that school decided that the book was not appropriate for elementary and pulled it form the shelves, sending the copies to the middle school.
Maybe something like that happened with the school librarian in question.  Even so, that’s a dramatic and rare example that just reinforces the importance of the librarian’s job in helping find the right read-alouds for the right teachers and grade levels.  You can’t have people just pulling any old book off the shelf and reading it.  (Yes, I’ve seen this done, usually with bad results.)
So we need to encourage read-alouds and help teachers find the right books so they can…
Read aloud every day in every subject!