I have unshakable faith in children. They always show me the way. ♥

Monday, November 23, 2009

reading aloud...

On Friday I cried in front of my class.

Okay, that's sort of an exaggeration. But I did get teary in front of them. And they noticed. They knew about it. In fact, they expected it. My friends, there are so many amazing books out there in the world. Tons of them. There are quite a few that I cannot read without getting teary. Dogger is one of them. The writing is lovely and well paced and real, and there is a moment where a sister does something so kind for her brother that I always get choked up. Children always respond to this book, too. They want to borrow it, reread it, examine the illustrations, and make some of their own.

But I can't just go reading any book willy-nilly to my students. Before I can read aloud a book where I'm probably going to get teary for a moment, I have to know that:

1. the kids will be okay with seeing me tear up. (They worry.)
2. our class is in a place where we can have moments of raw emotion like that
3. they're going to get something out of the story, too.

They did. ♥

Before we read, we talked about books we'd read over the year... books that had taught us how to predict, books that had made us laugh, had inspired our writing, had done a multitude of different things. I also told them that sometimes we understand the story or the characters so well that we almost feel what they are feeling. We talked about laughing and crying, about happy tears and sad tears and proud tears, and we talked about what we would do if someone did cry during a story.

We were prepared.

I don't quite know how to describe the feeling of reading aloud to children to someone that has never had 24 children hanging on every dramatic word, but believe me when I say it is magical. Good writing and good reading do this. Shirley Hughes so beautifully described the feeling and action of the main character that by the climax of the story, the children were absolutely still, some with mouths open and all with their eyes no where but on the lush illustrations, and none with a single breath in their mouth.

By the time the children realized that I had paused at one point not because I was being dramatic, but because I literally couldn't read the next words until I swallowed the lump in my throat, they knew exactly how I was feeling.

Because they were feeling it, too.

Reading aloud is such an intimate, exciting, beautiful part of the day, and on Friday they realized another important layer.

Hyung told me later, "I know why you cry, Miz F. I feel like it, too."

So, yeah. On Friday I cried in front of my students. But they were ready. We all were.

1 comment:

Dawn said...

I love that book. One of my students shared it with me two years ago and I have since bought my own copy. My daughter Emma likes it too. I think it's important for kids to know that grown-ups cry sometimes too. What a beautiful moment!