We all know how important read aloud time is to our students’ academic development. It has great benefits but, with time constraints in our already busy day, it's hard to find the right book at the right moment.
And... if I DO find myself with five or ten minutes to spare... do I have an extra book waiting at my fingertips? Not usually!
Missed Opportunities - Several times a year, I encountered books in my collection that I missed introducing while the time was right. Seasonal books had to wait until the following year and the books that were just right for introducing a skill or concept? Well… I could still read them but I lost that timely moment, when the book is the “magic” of a lesson.
Stacks of books - In my classroom there were always piles of books sitting on a table waiting to be read, and often getting in the way of other projects, or getting covered with a project and forgotten about!
Book Lists - These are a great idea, but I find them easy to forget to update when I add new books to my collection.
Then… last July, I had an idea for the easiest, most reliable solution to my problem, so far — a book bag!
I know! It sounds too simple, but it works!
I bought myself a heavy-duty book bag; the kind made for REAL stacks of books! (It was on sale and stylish, as well!) Each week, I gather books from my library that are seasonal, assorted genres, chapter and picture, related to a theme, concept or skill, or just fun and not to be missed! Some are in my plans, others are not.
Then, at a moment's notice, I can open my special book bag, which hangs on my chair near the carpet area, and pull out a book that has been specifically chosen as important for that week. My spontaneous read aloud time no longer feels rushed or haphazard!
Here are some books that are or have recently been in my bag:
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
Your students will love Scaredy Squirrel! He is lovable and resourceful. He does have one problem — he is scared of everything!
This book is great for a text featured lesson on charts. Scaredy has an informational chart for everything. After reading the book, allow students to create a chart of their own using information from the book.
The Lost and Found by Mark Teague
Three children explore the lost-and-found box at school and nearly get lost.
Besides being a great "making friends" book, I like to look at conversations and quotation marks the story uses. Grab some speech bubble stickie notes and write what each character is saying on the note. There is plenty of room on the large pages to stick the speech bubbles over their heads!
Pirates Don't Change Diapers by Melinda Long
Pirates visit Jeremy at his house and end up helping him babysit.
Along the same line as the last book, this one is great for picking out quotation marks and discussing each speaker and how they might sound. For writing, let them try writing in a pirate voice! Lots of fun! That pirate crew might also help with learning about exclamation marks! (They sure shout enough!)
Charlie Cook's Favorite Book by Julia Donaldson
This is the book version of a photo within a photo within a photo. Charlie begins reading his favorite book, and that's where the adventure begins!
My students love finding all of the connections from one book to another in the text and pictures. It's a fast read but, if you read it again, it generates great discussions and is a good example of text-to-text connections.
If Dogs Were Dinosaurs by David M. Schwartz
This is a book that teaches about scale (as in size.) The pictures are great and the objects used to explore scale are very interesting.
I use this book with the measurement unit in math or when we study about maps. It helps children visualize and compare sizes of objects.
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
Most children identify with not having something that they feel everyone else in the world has. That is the situation Jeremy is struggling with.
This is a great story to put in your plans when the Social Studies topic is "wants and needs" or for opening a discussion about how we treat others.
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves! by Lucielle Colandro
I bet your students can guess what might happen at the end of this book, but that doesn't mean they won't enjoy it!
This is a great "just for fun" book and it might lead to a discussion about parts and whole. Just for fun, students might draw what comes out when the Old Lady sneezes and then label everything!