Answering the Real Read Aloud Questions: Parent & Child

As we lead up to celebrating World Read Aloud Day with LitWorld, my sweet little boy and I answered a few questions in an interview about reading.  I hope that you enjoy reading our answers!  We had such a great time talking about the books we love!  Visit LitWorld’s website to find ideas for World Read Aloud Day!

1.  What should everyone in the world read aloud?

Me:  Everyone in the world should read aloud an Elephant and Piggie book (by Mo Willems) with a friend.  You can take turns reading the parts for Elephant and Piggie and it is SO much fun!

Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems

My wonderful boy (5 years old):  The Inside of Reptiles is what everyone in the world should read because it shows the inside and not everyone knows what is on the inside.  They have lungs and they come up for air.


2.  Who is the one person in the world that you would want to listen to as they read aloud?

Me:  Nancy Brown, my media professor from Georgia State University, was one of the most captivating readers that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing read aloud.  I will never forget when she read Bitter Bananas by Olaleye to my Children’s Literature class.  She added a special accent as she read.  It was beyond fantastic!  She had every student in the classroom mesmerized with her voice.

My boy:  Mr. Dwayne, a guy at church, because he would make good noises for the purpose of it.

**Side note:   I had to ask him who Mr. Dewayne was because I did not know.  He admitted that Mr. Dwayne has never read to him, but he just wanted for him to read aloud.  I think he was talking about Mr. Dwayne True, who works with the Royal Rangers on Wednesday nights at church.

3.  When reading aloud, who is your favorite character to impersonate?

Me:  It is so much fun to impersonate the cowboy from Are You A Horse? by Andy Rash.  I like to change the voices for all of the different animals, too.  My students sometimes look at me like I’m weird, but it’s great!  They laugh.

My boy:  Bees. Like Bzzzzzzz Bzzzzzrzzzzrzzzzzzz.

4.  Which genre or author takes up the most room on your bookshelf?

Me:  One series that is unique that I love is Michael Hoeye’s Time Stops for No Mouse trilogy (see The Sands of Time photo below).  Hermux Tantamoq is a watchmaker who has many adventures.  The imagery in Hoeye’s writing is incomparable.  Another author that has quite a bit of room on my bookshelf and e-reader shelf is Carl Hiaasen.  I particularly enjoy his children’s titles because he writes realistic fiction that is driven toward a cause, typically conservation of the environment.  The action in all of his novels keeps most readers, even reluctant ones, engaged.

The Sands of Time by Michael Hoeye

My boy:  I think I have more Arthur books.  I like to read true books.

5.  What is your favorite part of reading aloud or being read aloud to?

Me:  My favorite part of reading aloud is watching the faces of my students or my sweet boy as I get to a suspenseful part in the story.  I love shocking them sometimes by hiding the pictures until just the right moment.  Changing my voice to match a character is really fun, too!  If I’m reading to my own little one, I love cuddling up with a great pillow, blanket, and many books!  That warm, cozy feeling can’t be beat!

My boy:  I think you (Mom) reading Reptiles, too.  I like when Mom cuddles me up and fluffs my pillow and my Mom reads to me.

Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord

Is there anything else that you want to tell me about reading?

My boy:  Hot Rod Hamster says, “Which wheels do you choose?”  and they say, “the Hamster is a Hot Rod.”  5 Minute  marvels are awesome!  It has Kraven the Hunter in it and Mysterio and Electro and Doc Ock.

5 Minute Marvel Stories

How do you feel about learning to read?

My boy:  Great!  It is so fun!  I love to read!


Memories of Cozy Read-Alouds

As we are leading up to World Read Aloud Day on March 5th, I decided to join Matthew Winner’s WRAD Raising Our Voices Blogging Challenge!  This weeks’ topic is to share your earliest memories of read-alouds, so here goes!

When I was about 4 years old, my parents took the church youth group on a trip and I got to stay with my sweet Nannie, my maternal grandmother.  I remember cuddling up on her couch with a crocheted blanket (probably a ripple afghan) covering us as we read through some of the encyclopedia.  Somehow I think that chocolate chip cookies were involved in this read-aloud experience, too.  I don’t really remember how we selected which volume we would read from, but on this particular night we were reading the “P” volume.

Nannie knew just how to spark my curiosity!  She would let me breeze through the pictures in the encyclopedia and I would point out an interesting one for us to read about and talk about together.  I remember my Nannie telling me all about Louis Pasteur (that’s how I know it was the “P” volume) and the pasteurization process (at 4 years old I did not have a clue about this).  At such an early age I didn’t realize that I was learning something new, only that I loved spending time with my grandmother and books!  There is something truly special about snuggling up on a warm couch with a blanket and someone that you love more than words can describe and sharing a great book (or an entry in a volume of the World Book encyclopedia).  That set of encyclopedias was often read when I visited my grandparents’ home.

My little boy (he’s 5) and I now read aloud every night.  I hope that his memories of reading aloud are pleasant and cozy, like my memories with Nannie.  Reading with children from an early age can make a huge difference in their early reading progress.  My hope is that all of my students can find a book they truly enjoy and can read it with someone they love.

I am excited about World Read Aloud Day on March 5th because my students will have the opportunity to share some of their favorite books with students across the country!  This school year I have tried to instill in my students a giving spirit by having them make bookmarks for Skype friends and write letters to senior citizens.  I would like for my students to make something simple to send to the students that we visit with via Skype, but I haven’t settled on anything definite yet.  In the past our school has shared great books via Skype with students from other schools.  I am grateful for the connections that our school has made as a result of finding other dedicated library media professionals, such as Matthew Winner, Sarah Wendorf, Jenny Lussier, and Stacy Ford, through Twitter.   The excitement and passion that these media specialists bring to students about their favorite books is contagious!  I can’t wait to celebrate together!  For additional ideas for World Read Aloud Day, visit Lit World.


Teaching Genre to Kindergarten Students

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Kump’s kindergarten class to talk with them about genre.  The students came with a great deal of prior knowledge about fiction and non-fiction books, so we hoped to expand their understandings of genres through this collaborative lesson.

Before the lesson I talked with Mrs. Kump about her expectations for the learning outcome and gathered several books from the non-fiction, fiction, fairy tale, biography, and poetry genres.  I tried to gather a variety that would be interesting to the students.

To capture the attention of my young students, I started the lesson with the video from the Wonderopolis site for What Is A Genre?.  This video does not give information, but does have a visually captivating animation of books moving throughout a bookstore.  My hope was that students would remember the animation and automatically think of books when they hear the word genre.

Of course, we started the lesson by reviewing the meanings of fiction and non-fiction.   As we explored the books and learned about a genre, the students had the opportunity to fill in a graphic organizer by drawing a picture to represent the genre.

Genre Map

Fiction- The students could draw an animal wearing clothes or talking; anything that absolutely couldn’t happen.

Non-Fiction- Some of the children drew the moon and stars; others sketched animals.  The students were reminded that non-fiction books give information.

Fairy Tale- After looking at the fairy tale books, most students drew a picture of a crown or of a magic wand to show the fairy tale connection between royalty and magic.

Biography- Students did their best to sketch a famous person.  I showed them books about Abraham Lincoln, Mary Cassatt, Thomas Edison, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Poetry- For poetry, students drew a book with a few words.  The students were not very familiar with poetry, so I read a few poems to the students (some about sports, others about sea creatures, and some about school).  I tried to explain that poems sometimes rhyme, but not always.  Also, that poems don’t usually look the same as a story book.

In the end I had students think about the different genres and each child selected their favorite type of genre to write in the final square of the genre map.  During story times in the future, I plan to revisit the genres as they naturally arise through our book choices.

The most difficult genre for me to describe at a level that kindergarten students could understand was Poetry.  If you have any suggestions, I would love to read about them!

Thanks for reading!

Best Books and Blog Commenting

I’m so excited because one of my third grade classes has started blogging!  We are going to talk about commenting on blogs as part of a lesson in The Merry Media Center.  During the lesson, we will watch 2 videos by Mrs. Yollis about the best ways to comment on a blog post and how to post a comment to a blog.  While we are practicing our blog comments, students will have the opportunity to post a comment to this blog.

I hope that my students will share

1. the title of the best book they have read this school year


2.  how they feel about commenting on a blog.

I can’t wait to see the responses from my students!

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

alvin ho

One of my latest reads was Alvin Ho:  Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look.  This is a silly and fun chapter book that I think would appeal to my second graders as a read-aloud and to my third through fifth graders as an independent read.  My favorite part of the story is when Uncle Dennis teaches Alvin a few tricks about how to survive when camping.  One of the tricks is how to set traps in the woods, which Alvin attempts with some success.  Alvin’s Dad is not very pleased with the new skills that Uncle Dennis has shared with his children.  The book is told from Alvin’s perspective, which is quite hilarious!  This is a quick and easy read that will entice new readers to persevere through a chapter book!

juliet dove

A very different title that I decided to read is Juliet Dove, Queen of Love by Bruce Coville.  Several weeks ago I read The Weeping Werewolf (from the Moongobble and Me series) by Bruce Coville and I liked it, so I decided to try another one.  Juliet, an extremely shy girl, notices a magic shop that she has never seen before and decides to go in and look around.  During her visit, she falls in love with a gorgeous locket that she feels she must own.  After acquiring the locket, people start treating Juliet differently.  I am interested to find out how this story will end.

Happy Reading everyone!

Scheduling with Sign-Up Genius

At the beginning of this school year our school’s guidance counselor, Mrs. Ashley Allen, showed me a fantastic website for planning and scheduling events.  The Sign-Up Genius website allows the user to set dates and times for events and then invite others to sign up for a time that works with their schedules.  The site has really cute, customizable themes, which add a nice visual touch to the scheduling portion of the sign-up.

Using the Sign-Up Genius website has helped me to stay organized and has allowed my teachers to have equal access to lessons and story times in our media center space.  The website sends an e-mail reminder to the organizer and the participants to keep everyone aware of the upcoming event.  Most of my teachers like the sign-up website because they can access it from home or anywhere there is Internet access.

Try it.  You might like this super scheduling tool, too!

“It’s easier to…

“It’s easier to be brave if you think there are no consequences, know what I mean?”
– Frankie from The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill

This quote struck me as I finished reading, The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill.  Sometimes I think that it’s easy to get caught up in thinking about what could happen in a certain situation.  Being nervous or frightened about the outcome of a situation or possibility has kept me from moving forward in my past experiences.  Frankie’s encouragement in this quote is something that I need to take to heart.  When searching for ways to make our school’s media center better, I should put away any thoughts of failure and be brave.