The one about changing your read aloud books

Why you need to change your read aloud books and how to find something new

Do you remember the read aloud books your teachers read to you? I didn’t have that many teachers who read aloud to us, especially as we got older. I remember in fourth grade, our teacher read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Island of the Blue Dolphins. In fifth grade, we read The Phantom Tollbooth. When I was a senior in high school, my teacher read us a variety of things, but mostly I remember him reading Hamlet. It was awesome. Read aloud time is magical, it’s the best time of the day, and everyone needs to fit it in. The end.

Okay, wait. That’s not the point of this post. I remember those books and I’m attached to them. I want my students to feel the same magical bonds with books. That’s why I want you to look at your stack of books from last year and figure out which ones you’re going to change out.

Here’s why.

  • Different classes like different things. If your students want something different or see unattached, switch it up. This is where it can help to vote. I’ve done paper voting, Google Forms, and Google Meet polls. Read the backs of the books, maybe the first chapter, and let the kids vote. It increases buy in and sometimes you’ll be surprised by what they pick (aka not your first choice!).
  • Relevance. What discussion topics are your books leading to? Are the characters portrayed in a racist/sexist/transphobic way? There are certainly some classics that still work. That doesn’t mean they all do. Think about what you’re reading and whether you’re sending the right message to your students.
  • Representation matters. Are you creating windows and mirrors for your students? Are you representing different authors, genres, and formats?
  • Some other teacher spoiled your fun and read the book to your class last year. Only kidding a little! Obviously, you don’t want to repeat a book. Try to think of this like an opportunity. It’s not something to cry over. (That’s a little self-talk after I almost cried because the third grade teacher had read The Wild Robot to her class, so I couldn’t read it the next year. ???)

Realized you need some new books? I find new favorites by following other teachers on Instagram, looking at what’s popular on Amazon, and asking my students. When I ask my students, if they don’t know any books, I’ll ask what genre or topics they want to read about. That usually helps to guide my Google research. Librarians can be great resources too! Also, it helps to look at older books sometimes instead of what’s fresh and new. I’ve found slightly older books that are fun to revisit, like The Witches or The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

Need more help with read alouds? These posts might help!

Have a book picked out, but not sure what to do next? These resources include discussion task cards that can help you (or your students) facilitate conversations during reading.

Bud not Buddy Novel Study ActivitiesBecause of Winn-Dixie Read Aloud Activities CoverFish in a Tree Read Aloud Activities Cover

Reading something different? Check out the rest of the available sets in my store.

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