Wh at M a k e s a G o o d … ?
What Makes a Good Read–
Back in the fi fties, in my crowded parochial elementary school,
the highest form of good luck landed you in Mrs. Sheeran’s fourth-
grade class. The fact that Mrs. Sheeran wasn’t a nun marked her
instantly as different.
But more significant than her street we began the day with reading aloud.
clothes and married name were two At other times we settled down after
admirable practices. First, every day at lunch and recess with reading aloud.
10:30 she smuggled us out the back
Our classroom—one of fifteen trying
door and down to the playground for to coexist on three levels of open space
an all-class dodgeball game. Second, dreamed up in the early seventies by
she read aloud to our class at the architects, not teachers—could be a
end of the day, right distracting environ-
before dismissal. Her ment. When I gath-
books of choice were ered my students in a
the Happy Hollisters circle to read aloud,
series, and I was so it created a bubble of
taken with them that calm, an oasis of com-
I asked for Happy munity that fed us all,
Hollisters books that teacher and students
Years later, when I Reading picture
taught sixth grade in books aloud to
the 1990s, I, too, took younger children is
my students outside common practice—
for a mid-morning teachers during the
break (four-square was school day, parents
their game of choice). And I, too, read at bedtime. But reading aloud in
aloud every day. Sometimes, when my the middle grades is less widespread.
students looked particularly groggy, Once children start reading on their
Christine McDonnell is an author and the librarian at the Edward Devotion
School in Brookline, Massachusetts. Her latest book is Dog Wants to Play
(Viking), illustrated by Jeff Mack.
6 The Horn Book Magazine January/February 2010
–Aloud for Middle Graders?