What I Read to Them This Fall

Fall Books, 1

The library is closed until early December to accommodate a school fundraiser, cleanup, and then the Thanksgiving holiday. I approached a few of the teachers and offered my “read aloud” services during what would normally be the class library hour. On Monday I read to the 4th grade and the 1st grade. Later in the week I’ll read to the 3rd grade and the 5th grade. Aside from those hours with the kids, I don’t know what to do with myself! Catch up on everything I’ve neglected is a good start, I suppose.

I read aloud to all my classes except 3rd grade, and that’s because the teacher has them learning how to use the dictionary. People think I’m weird reading to the upper grades, but some reading advocates say it increases vocabulary, builds background knowledge, and improves literacy. Plus, they like it and it’s fun and it keeps them quiet!

I’m reading The One and Only Ivan to the 4th grade (will start reading it this week to the 3rd grade) and Wonder to the 5th, 6th, and 7th grades. I have two classes per grade, so by the time I’m done I will have read The One and Only Ivan 5 times (I read it once before) and Wonder 6 times. O_o

The second grade teacher has me reading The Indian in the Cupboard. It’s okay–not my favorite–but the kids seem to love it.

p.s. Do you like my literal setup of Fall books on a lawn strewn with Fall leaves? Don’t be too impressed. It’s because the dining room table was covered with the remnants of Nico’s latest creation (he’s in an art phase) and I was far too lazy to clean it up.

The first grade teacher asked me to bring in a Thanksgiving book, so of course I took that to mean one Thanksgiving book and two other books just for fun.

Fall Books, 4

Thanksgiving Graces by Mark Moulton is about a little boy who watches the Thanksgiving dinner table grow and grow and grow as people come over to join in the festivities. As the room reaches maximum capacity, he begins to worry they will never have enough food to feed all these people. His grandmother takes him aside and reminds him of the story of the loaves and the fishes to explain how love multiplies.

It’s your typical feel-good holiday book. The little ones were chattering the entire time about Thanksgiving dinner until I finally asked everyone to share their favorites.

“I have FOUR favorites! Cheeekin, mashed potatoes, and…and…um. I forgot!”

“I like fish!” [gasps from the class]

“I like turkey, and I like corn, and I like cranberries, and I like pie, and I like this Mexican coffee, but it’s coffee that little kids can drink! So I like that coffee. Because I can drink it.”


“My aunt always brings this fancy dessert, and it’s pretzels, but they are sticks, and there are strawberries, and white stuff, and chocolate.”

Asking everyone to share their favorites may not have been my all-time smartest move in the playbook. It took up so much time that I didn’t get to read The Snatchabook, the one book I was really looking forward to reading. Next week!

Fall Books, 2

Instead, I read Fall Ball, a book about a group of kids who come home from school excited to play football. The fall leaves are blowing everywhere, and there is a frisky dog named Sparky that plays on the team and…

Fall Books, 3

crashes into a HUGE pile of leaves. Pratfalls: that’s why I brought this book. I knew all I had to do was yell CRASH! and shake the book around and the kids would think it was the funniest thing ever. I was right. And I heard Nico’s laugh above all the squeals and cackles.

The books are all okay (The Snatchabook is my favorite) by I wouldn’t run out and add them to your permanent collection. You can find something just as entertaining at the library. I’m reading this to the boys right now when they get home from school. I’ll let you know how it goes. So far, Mikey loves it and Nico is meh.

16 Responses to “What I Read to Them This Fall”
  1. Amy says:

    Tell those naysayers that Mrs. Browne (my 7th grade teacher) remains a favorite–and she read children’s books aloud every Friday afternoon . . . even the boys loved her. They probably wouldn’t admit such, but it was evident by the way they were quiet as church mice as she read–and harassed the heck out of substitute teacher who refused to partake in the reading tradition. (and I promise, this is the last time I tell this story :)

    Speaking of children’s books, have you read, “Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed”? Good times, that . . .

  2. Lily says:

    In support of the above, and of your own belief – I used to teach high school and read aloud regularly to the Grade 9′s and occasionally even to the Grade 12′s. I know I enjoyed it, and I’m pretty sure they did, too. I used to read an old story called “The Soul of Caliban” to the Grade 9 classes, and there were always a few kids quietly wiping away tears at the end. For the Grade 12′s I usually read a Truman Capote story with an ironic point of view from a really unlikeable narrator – they often picked up the real nature of his character more easily when hearing it rather than reading it on their own, and it was funnier that way, too.

  3. Carrie says:

    Try D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths – we have loved, loved, loved those stories…

  4. Are you familiar with Thank You, Sarah–about the woman who worked for years to make Thanksgiving a national holiday? (http://www.amazon.com/Thank-You-Sarah-Woman-Thanksgiving/dp/068985143X) My daughter loved this one when she was in 2nd grade.

    As for multiple read-alouds, I taught about 3 sections of 9th grade for 4 years at the very beginning of my teaching career–which would be 23 years ago. I can still recite big chunks of Romeo and Juliet from memory! Because of that and my son’s predilection for bathroom humor back in 6th grade, there is a family joke about Juliet breaking wind on the balcony. (Grace read R&J in 6th grade.)

  5. Susan G says:

    I’m not a good “read alouder” except for books for very young children, so I admire those who do it. I’m sure you are very good at it. How can you read Ivan out loud and not cry too much????

  6. Susan says:

    My kids liked the Indian in the Cupboard via audio, but it is a bit controversial these days because it is so not P.C. My kids liked Wonder and Ivan too, but I’m not sure I could read them that many times! Good luck!

  7. Phaedra says:

    I loved Wonder & Ivan! So happy you’re getting to read aloud to the older kids at school! I think there is something to be said for the oral tradition & not just skimming through material. My daughter is 8 and she LOVES me to read to & with her. (I don’t see it coming to an end anytime soon.) I enjoy it, too, and I think her reading skills are better because of it. Plus, it gives me an excuse to read children’s books and see what all the hubbub is.

  8. Carmen J says:

    This makes me wonder if I’m the only person on the planet that hates being read to. I’ve been a reading addict since before kindergarten, I’d rather read than do pretty much anything in the world. But having someone read to me has always been an extreme form of torture. Maybe it’s because I lack patience. It just seemed to take sooo looong. For some reason, I just don’t connect too much with the story if I can’t see the words myself.

    • Jules says:

      I actually don’t like being read to, either, unless the person reads very well. That’s really the key. A monotone reader who doesn’t get into characters or differentiate between voices isn’t going to be worth listening to. When I heard David Sedaris read some of his short stories at one of his readings it was a totally new experience. I laughed out loud in places I never did before. It was AMAZING.

  9. Jenn says:

    In grade seven the teacher read Macbeth out loud, and she assigned several scenes to groups of us, and we had to act them out. It was an amazing experience, my first introduction to Shakespeare. She also read poetry to us. It was a pivotal year, full of new experiences, and I loved every second of it (and I remain an introvert to this day, but it was a great first).
    It is excellent that you are able to provide this for the kids! What a wonderful way of giving back to your community.

  10. Kat in Canada says:

    I applaud you for reading “The One and Only Ivan” aloud. That book turns me into a sobbing, teary mess, every time I pick it up. I would scar those poor children for life.

    When I was in Fourth Grade, my teacher would always read aloud to us, for the last 30 minutes of the day. We worked our way through all of Roald Dahl’s books, and I loved every minute. I think it’s also helpful for the kids who may not be strong readers- they’re exposed to books and stories that they may not be able to tackle on their own.

  11. Julie says:

    Hooray, Jules! I, too, love Fall Ball and The Snatchabook, and I wish I could come and listen to you read! How is Wonder going over with the kids? Are you very far along? My 9 year old daughter and I are reading it together (taking turns reading aloud), and sometimes I feel like I can’t speak the words aloud, it is so painful and emotional. (Her librarian challenges the fourth and fifth graders each year to read all ten of the Golden Sower nominees for the middle grades, so we are plugging along!) We also loved “Masterpiece” by Elise Broach and “Three Times Lucky” by Sheila Turnage.

  12. LauraC says:

    Oh, fifth graders should DEFINITELY be read to! I read to my fifth grade class, and it was really fun to get into a book as a group. I credit Peter and the Starcatchers http://www.beyondhollywood.com/gary-ross-is-developing-peter-pan-prequel-peter-and-the-starcatchers/s-23/ with turning one of my fifth grade boys into a reader. He took off. Checked out and finished the book before we did, then read the sequel, and kept reading after that. He was so excited to come tell me what was going on next. That’s why we teach. :) Anyway, lots of classics out there to read to students. I must admit a sentimental love of The Indian in the Cupboard. I LOVED it as a kid and spent hours in the summer outside making my own Indian diorama. I reread it when I was teaching awhile back, and yeah, it’s not classic literature, nor politically correct, but that can’t take away my childhood memories.

    Oh, and if you or Mikey haven’t read Peter and the Starcatchers, I highly recommend it. Also, you’ve read Inkheart, right? I’m sure he’d like it too. My first grader is a very good reader, but she’s not ready for a lot of those great reads quite yet; something to look forward to.

  13. Lianne says:

    I did a whole paper for my TL diploma on the benefits of reading aloud in upper grades – right into high school. So I applaud you. (and yes, the reader needs to be good at it)

    I was really surprised to see you reading Indian in the Cupboard. That book has been shunned in most Canadian schools because of it’s inaccurate and naively stereotypical portrayal of First Nations. I guess that isn’t as prominent an issue down there?

    • Jules says:

      I never read it before this year. I don’t know if it’s been shunned in schools in our area, but I do think it’s a book that should be read in context. Can 7 year olds read in context? I don’t think so.

  14. Kristin says:

    I love that you are reading aloud to the older grades! I will never forget that my 5th grade teacher read The Princess Bride to us (before the movie was out). We were absolutely transfixed. My fourth grade teacher some of the Narnia books to us and that was wonderful too. I really can’t remember much about my grade school experiences in terms of academics–but I definitely remember that. Such a great idea! I also remember that in both classes, this was considered a treat. We had to earn it, and it was really motivating for the whole class.

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Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.