What if reading aloud was the front porch or the threshold that welcomed students into learning? As students, teachers and families prepare to return to their classrooms, Lester Laminack joins Michelle Morris Jones to unpack how reading aloud to students has the power to bring communities of learners back together with purpose and meaning. For all of us, young and old, listening to others read aloud is generally a pleasurable experience as it can take us to other places, help us understand our paths and the paths of others, build background knowledge about topics of interest, foster emotional engagement, and introduce us to the beauty of the written word. Listening to the written word is different from listening to oral language, it actually helps students “tune their ears” to the cadence and structure of text which supports language and writing development. Reading aloud is also so much more than just letters and sounds, it provides a model that reading is about curiosity, joy, and understanding. A well chosen read aloud can provide a space for students to “see” themselves and others, provide opportunities to explore the challenges and triumphs of others, and to develop empathy and agency to make changes in the world. Just imagine, a poem as the opener as science class begins or the delicious chapter right after lunch that becomes a ritual or routine in a student’s day. We know that many students have experienced great trauma and stress during the pandemic and this time of social change, and reading aloud can serve as a transition into the school day or between classes that allows students to have time to move into calm and productive physical and emotional spaces for learning. Lester Laminack not only shares the reasons for reading aloud but also the importance of intentional planning. Our text selection makes all the difference and can bring all learners together as teachers, students, and families navigate their return to the classroom.
Lester Laminack is a well known educator, consultant, and author. You might know him through his contributions to the field via Reading with Children, Writer’s Workshop (Getting Through the Hard Parts and They’re All Hard), Reading to Make a Difference, Writers ARE Readers, Bullying Hurts, The Writing Teachers’ Troubleshooting Guide, and many others. Or perhaps you know him best through his children’s books like The King of Bees, Three Hens and a Peacock, Saturdays and Teacakes, Snow Day!, The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins, Trevor’s Wiggly-Wobbly Tooth or Jake’s 100th Day of School. Lester believes in the power of stories and the importance of each and every learner having a voice and the opportunity to connect with texts, as he says, “Stories come out of your soul, past your heart, into your mouth… before they reach the pen in your hand.” learn more about Lester Laminack on his website http://www.lesterlaminack.com/ or on Twitter @lester_laminack.
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