Read Alouds: Making Memorable Classroom Moments

by Kimberly Belle Cross

Read alouds are timeless qualities of the schoolroom experience. I may have a biased opinion, being that of a teacher. Truthfully though, think back to grade school. You totally still remember a chapter book or awe inspiring picture book being read to you, right? I still remember Holes and A Child Called It being read to me in fifth and sixth grade. I was enthralled with the stories and eagerly anticipated that 15 minute block of reading where my teacher, putting down the teaching materials, picked up a book and took us to worlds of adventure and emotion.

I bring up this topic of ‘read alouds’ because I have been thoroughly enjoying my student’s reactions as of late to the various chapter books I have been reading to them daily. Two recents have been The BFG and Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl, both insight much laughter among my class. My favorite aspect of reading aloud to my students is, easily, the dramatically different voices I get to give each character. The BFG {short for Big Friendly Giant} takes place in London, therefore my characters receive my attempts at English accents as well as ‘grotesque giant’ voice overs. The stories come alive to my third graders this way. They remember the voices I’ve given the characters, more so than I do, and they will excitedly point out “hey, that (new) character sounds just like so and so (previous book’s character).” It keeps me on my teacher toes, creating new and engaging voices for the read alouds characters. It is so worth foregoing a ‘professional demeanor’ when I can get a room full of both little boys and girls glued to the words of each page I read.

I remember learning the art of read alouds in a children’s literature class during my undergrad. One of our professors would read aloud a children’s book every class and let me tell you that room of twenty something year olds were completely silent and drawn in because of her almost mesmerizing reading voice. Gentleness, spirit, build up – characteristics of her keen read aloud abilities. It’s one of the things I looked forward to emulating most in my classroom. The bond students make with the stories read to them, to the teachers reading, is a beautiful sight. It provokes me as a teacher and a growing writer. I hope to write and read many children’s books that bring characters to life via a teacher’s voice. I find it just so cool that even now I am making memorable classroom moments through these stories read aloud and I love every second of it.