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Principals Favorite
Read-Aloud Books

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Are you a principal who loves to read aloud to students? Modeling a joy of reading is one of the most valuable things you can do. So what is the book (or books) that you most love to share? That's what we asked members of our "Principal Files" team, and here is their list. Included: Add to the list by sharing your favorite read-aloud titles.

When Joan Pinkerton was a teacher, reading aloud to students was the number one priority of her day. Even on days cluttered with assemblies, prep periods, and other interruptions, time was always made to read aloud.

Reading Aloud
To Adults Too

It is important to mention that reading aloud to the adults we lead is also a very powerful act," said Principal Bridget Morisseau.

Morisseau often brings read-aloud material into the first staff meeting of the new year. Before getting to the mounds of papers that need to be distributed, the keys that need to be issued, and all the other mundane tasks of the day, Morisseau makes time to read.

Some years I select a humorous book such as What Teachers Do When No One Is Looking," said Morisseau. Other years I have selected touching stories or poems about teachers, children, and our purpose as educators."

Reading aloud is a great way to focus everyone on what is really important -- the children -- and to provide a positive and uplifting start to the year."

The fact that Pinkerton has moved on to become a principal has not changed her resolve about reading aloud. Reading aloud is probably one of the most important things we can do for all students," says Pinkerton, principal at Kent Primary School in Carmel, New York. Reading aloud is an invitation to students to join us in the exciting world of literature."

Read-alouds can be used for many instructional purposes, added Pinkerton. They can be used to develop background knowledge or increase fluency and vocabulary. They can be used to increase comprehension skills. They can be used to enable students to enjoy material beyond their reading ability."

But beyond all that, reading aloud helps students to simply enjoy the beauty of being read to as it develops their love of reading, added Pinkerton, whose many favorite books include -- for obvious reasons -- Steven Kelloggs Pinkerton, Behave! and Prehistoric Pinkerton.

In Huntsville, Alabama, Teri Stokes can find a read-aloud to suit almost any purpose or teach any skill. Whether she wants to develop phonemic awareness and phonics skills; improve comprehension; increase fluency; build character; or simply increase the motivation to read, she can find a book to help her do that.

When it comes to teaching about adjectives, for example, I might read a book such as Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day because each page has at least one very interesting adjective," explained Stokes. Or I might use Dear Deer to teach homophones."

Reading aloud is a great filler activity too, added Stokes, who is principal at Weatherly Elementary School. Many teachers read aloud when they have 5 or 10 minutes to fill between PE and lunch," she said. Reading aloud at times like that is a great way to sneak in information and knowledge while you build reading skills and strategies."

Stokes recommends any number of valuable sources of excellent read-aloud material. Those sources include Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook, Lester Laminacks Reading Aloud Across the Curriculum, and Reba Wadsworth's Reading Under the Influence of Language and Literature.

Join the Conversation

Many principals love to take time to demonstrate their love of reading by reading aloud to students. Are you a principal who takes time to model a love of reading in that way? Do you have a favorite read-aloud book or two that you particularly like to share with students?

Please take a moment to share the book(s) that you love to read aloud. You might even share a word or two about why you love that book and why you take time to read aloud.

Thanks 1,000,000 for helping to create a list of great read-alouds that other principals might use to get started or to flesh out their own lists!


Click here to share your favorite read aloud

Joe Corcoran is another principal who harbors a long list of favorite books to read aloud to students. Once each month, students at his school -- Harriet Gifford Elementary School in Elgin, Illinois -- gather in the gym for a morning meeting.

One of the most popular features of this meeting is a segment we call Everybody Reads," said Corcoran. We invite guest readers to read aloud so students see a wide variety of individuals reading."

The read-aloud of the day has been scanned into a PowerPoint presentation, which is projected onto the gym wall, Corcoran explained.

After the reading," Corcoran added, we ask three comprehension questions and give out prizes. Knowing the questions and prizes are coming really helps kids focus during the read-aloud time."

At William Winsor Elementary School in Greenville, Rhode Island, Principal Bridget Morisseau often reads aloud between the time students finish eating and are dismissed to recess. This is a perfect read-aloud time at my school," said Morisseau. We have a character trait of the month, so I often select books that relate to that trait and use this lunchroom time to read aloud, ask questions, ask for predictions, and model all of the strategies good readers use."

Even though Frank Hagen is a high school principal, he manages to find many ways to sneak reading aloud into the school year. From time to time, teachers who make reading aloud a priority will invite him into their classrooms. He often reads excerpts of books that include powerful quotes that relate to his students lives. Sometimes he includes classic movie clips. Hagen has used everything from Dr. Seuss to Stephen Covey to Lou Gehrigs famous luckiest man" speech to get students thinking.

Hagens favorite book for reading and discussion is the Dr. Seuss book, Oh, the Places Youll Go. The students will moan when I come to the class with this book, but they get right into the reading and quickly learn the many lessons that are contained in the book -- lessons about lifes ups and downs, its challenges and changes, making big decisions, embarking on new stages of life, being alone, and being resilient, patient, and successful."

The Most
Important Thing

Becoming a Nation of Readers told us long ago something we all knew," Jim Thompson told Education World. The most important thing we can do to help children fall in love with reading is to read to them."

Thompson, recently retired from the principalship, is now teaching graduate level students, and I read to them every day."

Don't neglect to read chapter books to kids, Thompson added. Right after lunch I used to make it a practice to read part of a chapter book to kids, and they loved it. They always got back to their seats quickly after lunch so they could be ready for me to read to them."

Thompson also recommends to all his students that they pick up a copy of How Reading Changed My Life, an essay written by Anna Quindlen. I bought it for my entire staff one year. It is compelling!" said Thompson.

Hagen has found that students at both the middle school and high school level were excited to have him in their classrooms. They asked me lots of questions about the readings," he said. As a matter of fact, I had to return to several classes to continue the discussions we started."

DR. SEUSS, A PERENNIAL FAVORITE

One only has to consider for a moment the world-wide popularity of Dr. Seuss to know that his books will be big hits with kids from two to ninety-two. The combination of fun language and powerful messages makes them surefire read-aloud winners.

Principal Larry Davis loves to read Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! This was Dr. Seusss last book and had to be finished by his friend, Jack Prelutsky, after Dr. Seuss died. The book is excellent to share as we prepare our students for the FCAT [state] tests. It is about how teachers at the Diffendoofer School prepare their students for the upcoming test."

Of course, the hard work of teachers and students pays off, and Diffendoofer becomes the best school in Dinkerville, added Davis.

As a former English teacher, Principal Jason Bednar likes to read-aloud books that have fun with language, so almost anything by Dr. Seuss is sure to fill the bill.

I especially like the Tweedle Beetle Battle part of Fox in Socks," says Bednar, because the kids give me a good reaction to the effort it takes me to not trip over my tongue."

Michael McNeece, principal at Stern Enhancement School in Greenville, Mississippi, most enjoys reading Seusss Green Eggs and Ham. The students all know it, many have it memorized, but they still love to hear the principal read it," McNeece told Education World.

PRINCIPALS FAVORITE READ-ALOUDS

Education Worlds Principal Files" principals have compiled a long list of favorite read-aloud books. Turn to page 2 of this article for that list of Principals Favorite Read-Aloud Books.

ADDITIONAL READ ALOUD RESOURCES
FROM EDUCATION WORLD

Principals Share Favorite Read-Alouds: 2001
Reading Aloud: Is It Worth It?
Reading Aloud: Are Students Ever Too Old?
Strategies That Work: Reading Aloud
Surprised By Reading: Confessions of a Math Teacher

Principal Contributors" to This Article

The following members of Education Worlds Principal Files" team shared their thoughts and read-aloud book ideas in this article.
  • Jason Bednar, principal, Owen Elementary School, Naperville, Illinois
  • Joe Corcoran, principal, Harriet Gifford Elementary School, Elgin, Illinois
  • Kathy Crowley, principal, Ponderosa Elementary School, Merdian, Idaho
  • Larry Davis, principal, OakLeaf K-8 School, Middleburg, Florida
  • Addie Gaines, principal, Kirbyville (Missouri) Elementary School
  • George Guy, principal, Fleetwood School, Mount Laurel, New Jersey
  • Frank J. Hagen, principal, Saint Michaels (Maryland) Middle/High School
  • Bonita Henderson, assistant principal (retired), Cincinnati (Ohio) Public Schools
  • Karen I. Hodges, principal, Brockton (Massachusetts) Christian School
  • Michael McNeece, principal, Stern Enhancement School, Greenville, Mississippi
  • Bridget Morisseau, principal, William Winsor School, Greenville, Rhode Island
  • Joan Pinkerton, principal, Kent Primary School, Carmel, New York
  • Gretchen Schlie, principal, Yongsan International School of Seoul (Korea)
  • Teri Stokes, principal, Weatherly Heights Elementary School, Huntsville, Alabama
  • Jim Thompson, principal (retired), Wolcott Street School, LeRoy, New York
  • Steve Whewell, principal, Victory Christian School, Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Marcia Wright, principal, Clinton (Michigan) Elementary School


To explore other practical articles from the Principal Files series, go to our Principal Files Archive.
Click here to learn how you might contribute to a future "Principal Files" article.


Article by Gary M. Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2009 Education World

Originally published 08/29/2008
Last updated 03/20/2009



 


 

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