Year Five of Reading Aloud

Jonny Mansfield, Unsplash

As a (mostly) retired public servant, I am eager to resume my reading aloud with primary students this school year.

To say that the process is ‘rewarding’ is an understatement. I am often paid in hugs. While the classroom teachers with whom I have worked value my presence every week, it is the students of grades three, four and five who show their genuine appreciation.

A typical Thursday morning involves driving to the school and schlepping the three-ring binders of my prepared-and-rehearsed readings for the day. In the classroom, I place my binder(s) on a stand-up table or lectern and wait for enough silence to commence. I have never sat for a reading period. Call it the performer (aka ‘ham’) in me, if you will, but I believe it is impossible to read with engagement — and gestures — while seated. Call me ‘old school’ if you like.

Over the last few years, I have become an invited member of my county chapter of Read Aloud West Virginia, a vetted-and-authentic organization of volunteer readers, link below. I am sure that your state has an organization or educational department with similar mission. As an in-school volunteer, it is also necessary to be fully researched as fitting (background check, policy-compliance and related, each year) by my local school district.

Recollecting on my own experience as a primary student, now these many years ago, it was the teachers or community members who read aloud with my class and me that always fondly come to mind. What they did had impact. Learn about the affirming studies that show student improvement in classrooms in which a spoken reader participates in learning. And I can vouch that I am, without fail, warmly welcomed in every classroom. Although what I read is likely not as important as how I engage students in a quality story, the expression of interest in their collective faces says it all. Afterward, it is not unusual for students to steal a hug on my way out of the classroom, often on the way to the next classroom in my schedule.

Yeah, I also have the gratification of teaching in an after-school program three afternoons a week, but it is ordinarily the weekly reading sessions that make it oh-so-easy for me to get up on a Thursday morning. Don’t say, “I don’t have time” or “I’m too old” for reading aloud. I am 70 and work with a dozen organizations and community interests. Do the students — and yourself — a favor this school year. Read aloud.


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