This is the beginning of the longest stretch of school. We have passed our Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and spring break is four lifetimes away. Assessments are on the horizon and administrators are starting to feel the pressure of the high-stakes, end-of-year testing. That means that teachers are too. But, it’s also February and that means love is the air! This February, use these tried-and-true tricks of the trade to fall in love with reading all over again, because when we love reading, our students love reading.
Pre-reading your read-alouds allows you to:
Work on character voices.
Know when to amp up the volume or read super quietly, and when to pause to build suspense.
Plan if you are going to slip your shoes off and read from a tabletop, or get your students to lie on their stomachs in a circle while you sit crisscross and read.
Yes pre-read, but then read it out loud like you have no idea what is getting ready to happen. Your energy and excitement is contagious to kids. Every book you read should be your “favorite.”
Ways to say that a book is exciting without saying every book is your favorite:
I have waited all year to read this book to you!
Of all the books about _______ in the world, this is one I'm most excited about!
You are going to LOVE this book so listen closely, because you don't want to miss a word!
I just remembered that I bought this book especially for you! Are you ready to hear it?
I can't wait to hear what you think about this book!
Don’t sit in your very cute, Dr. Seuss-themed rocking chair to read every book. I’ve always said that, “A teacher on his feet is worth two in his seat.” A teacher who is moving gives something for all of those wandering eyes to wander with as you walk around the room. (Obviously, this method doesn't work for when you are crisscross on the floor with your class!)
There are special books out there that just lend themselves to a guest reader or even co-reading with a parent volunteer, teaching assistant, or inclusion teacher. This drives the idea of different characters home quicker than any other activity I know.
There are several ways to put your hands on new books to spice up your variety:
Use your school or local library to stay up-to-date with new books.
What new books have other teachers in your school purchased?
Send a note home with students letting them know different topics you will be teaching and let them bring in their favorite book from home.
If you have some extra cash (I will wait for a minute while we all chuckle) or extra Scholastic Reading Club bonus points, here are 10 of the best new Valentine’s Day books to really help you fall in love with reading again:
By Bruce Hale, illustrated by Guy Francis
Clark the Shark is an amazing character. Hale does a fantastic job of crafting stories that really resonate with younger readers. I professed my love for Clark in one of my first blog post, but as with all great loves in life, my adoration for Clark grows with each new book.
By Samantha Berger, illustrated by Dan Santat
I love the Crankenstein character, as do all of the students I know. This is a book that will definitely let you practice your awesome voices. Santat’s (author of the Caldecott Metal winning The Adventures of Beekle) illustrations bring this wonderful look at childhood to life and helps draw students into your read-aloud.
By Scott Campbell
I have to admit that every time I take this book off the shelf, I sing, “I’m just a love machine,” repeatedly in my head. While this book has nothing to do with being a love machine, it is a great story about a little kid who just loves to give hugs and make others happy. What a great Valentine's Day message!
By Kimberly and James Dean
Pete the Cat is a perennial favorite with the PreK and kindergarten sets. I posted previously about how Pete saved my Thanksgiving, and here he is to save my Valentine’s Day as well! Thanks Pete, you are the coolest cat I know.
By Salina Yoon
I adore Penguin and his books. This one is just adorable, and is a great addition to a series that every kid should be exposed to.
By Lucille Colandro, illustrated by Jared Lee
You MUST sing this book! You need all the books in this series! Every one of them does a great job of reinforcing repetitive text. I feel like a total rock star when I sing a new verse and then I stop and point to the audience (I mean my class), and they sing the next line! Embrace your inner rock star and get these books!
By Rachel Bright
I saw this book last year and just fell in love with it. My kindergarten theme was "monstergarten" (which is also the title of a great Daniel Mahoney book) and so monsters were on my radar last year. Love Monster holds a special place in my heart because this is what my awesome daughter, Ella, bought for me last Valentine’s Day with her own money.
By Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
This team's new book, Big Bad Bubbles, made my 2014 Top 12 list, but this is the book where I discovered the magic that they are capable of producing. I love to use this book around Valentine's Day because it features a different kind of love, and sometimes we need a new way to use that word in kindergarten.
You and Me
By Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
I am a huge Peter Reynolds’ fan (his collaboration with Paul Reynolds also made my 2014 Top 12 list) and I am instantly drawn to his illustrations. His illustrations, paired with the beautiful words of friendship love by Verde, makes for a Valentine's Day classic for years to come. This book is a great introduction to my Love Note activity. It is also a wonderful book to co-read with someone.
By Susan Pearson, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
Total disclosure: I hate slugs in real life. I can deal with any spider or bug, but slugs make my skin crawl. So if I say this is a cute book, then you know that it must be really cute (for everybody else). Herbie and Marylou are characters that your students will be rooting for as you make your way through this adorable story.
I can’t wait to see you next week (and I still hate slugs).