What Makes a Good Read-Aloud for Middle Graders? by ProQuest

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									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	
  Christmas.	                                                        alike.
     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
  	 6		The Horn Book Magazine			January/February	2010
–Aloud for Middle Graders?
                                          
								
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