Discouraging Read-Alouds

I heard a horrible rumor about a school librarian that was actually discouragingread alouds.  I’m not one to listen to gossip and especially not one to share it but I’ve been thinking about this ever since and so feel compelled to write about it.Now, like most rumors, I doubt this one is true.  A librarian?  Discouraging teacher read-alouds?  That would be kind of like a dentist discouraging you to brush your teeth wouldn’t it?

Maybe I misheard.  Maybe the gossiper meant the librarian was encouraging read-alouds.  Yeah, that must have been it.  But then, why would anyone be talking about that?  That’s what we spend a good deal of our time on, isn’t it?  I know not only am I actually reading aloud to classes but I’m often showing teachers new books that would be good read-alouds, suggesting more when they bring one up to check out and updating lists on the wiki of good read-alouds for certain grades and subjects.

As one of my favorite children’s lit. professors used to constantly reiterate: “Read aloud every day in every subject.”

My art teacher was delighted when I shared Chalk and Pete the Cat with her this year.  I’ve done much the same for many of the teachers in the building in a variety of subjects.  Yes, there are great non-fiction red-alouds!  Yes, you can turn that into an easy and fun reader’s theater! Yes, yes, yes!

The only problem I’ve ever heard with read-alouds is when someone doesn’t correctly match up their students and the book being read.  Often this comes from inexperienced or lazy teachers who haven’t read the book.  At one school I worked in, a fourth grade teacher picked up The Giver.  Maybe because it had an award on it, I don’t know.  It was a little much for that class and one student, upset at the ending, complained to parents.  The media committee in that school decided that the book was not appropriate for elementary and pulled it form the shelves, sending the copies to the middle school.

Maybe something like that happened with the school librarian in question.  Even so, that’s a dramatic and rare example that just reinforces the importance of the librarian’s job in helping find the right read-alouds for the right teachers and grade levels.  You can’t have people just pulling any old book off the shelf and reading it.  (Yes, I’ve seen this done, usually with bad results.)

So we need to encourage read-alouds and help teachers find the right books so they can…

Read aloud every day in every subject!


Jim Randolph

Partee Elementary, Snellville, GA


About Library_Jim

School librarian, dad, hubby, geek.

Posted on May 12, 2011, in Best practice. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Susan,

    I couldn’t have said it better!


    You’re really are never too old to be read to.


    I think most people’s fondest memories from school are being read to. I hope we don’t ever squeeze that out of our day.

    And I always cry reading Pink & Say aloud too!

    Thanks all,

  2. Great post, Jim! You are absolutely correct about selecting the “right” title for a read-aloud. This is a great place for the school media specialist to exert some influence. By knowing the books, knowing the curriculum, knowing the teacher(s), and knowing the students, s/he can make recommendations that will result in success. Plus – the media specialist that understands standards will be able to quote them plus applicable research to any teacher and/or administrator who thinks read-alouds are not supported or valid in today’s classroom environment. Thanks for the post!

  3. Phyllis Snipes

    This is SO true – even at high school level. When I was working in P-12, I book talked and read poetry to my high schoolers, and they loved it!

  4. Rebecca Amerson

    One of my fondest memories is of my 6th grade teacher reading aloud to us every day. On a road trip I had my 6th grade son reading Harris and Me aloud and I could hardly drive for laughing! You never get too old to be read to! I have read Pink and Say to a high school American History class studying the Civil War and heard sniffles as I was finishing up…

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