First Read Alouds


First Read Alouds

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From Gail Tanner of Blacklick, Ohio: When I taught second grade, I would read The Teacher from the Black Lagoon on the first day of school. Then every day for the next week or so, we would have a guest reader. The principal would come in and read The Principal from the Black Lagoon , the custodian would read The Custodian from the Black Lagoon , etc. This way, the students had the opportunity to meet the staff at our school and make a personal connection with them. It was a lot of fun.

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From Kathryn Sandler of Taipei, Taiwan: On the first day of school in my fourth-grade classroom I like to read aloud Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt. After reading the book, I discuss with my students how we might rewrite the book for Scaredy Squirrel's First Day of School. Sharing our fears for the day or even the school year can help me know in what ways I can help my students feel more comfortable.

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From Janet Niehaus of Easley, South Carolina: I teach third grade. I begin the year reading Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. I share a bag with my memories of "something that makes me laugh," "something that is precious as gold," and "something from long ago." Students gather three objects from home to bring in and share. After sharing out loud I take a picture of the child with the objects. This picture is glued into their writing notebook beside a written composition about the objects.

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Ann Dettmann aims for quick, fun, and friendly in the first read aloud with her fourth graders in Shakopee, Minnesota: I love reading Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka to my 4th graders. It is a great way to talk about making friends, and it shows the struggling readers that all books have value, not just long ones!

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From Nadine Heifert of Chandler, Arizona: I use The Night Before Kindergarten , by Natasha Wing, to start discussions about how we're all feeling the same things. We've all been preparing for kindergarten and we're all excited about the new year. I talk about the things I did to get ready, and then I introduce class meeting procedures.

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From Marcia Balkin of Columbia, Missouri: In our first-grade class I read aloud First Day Jitters and have a brief discussion about how we felt coming back to school this morning. Then we pull out the individual mirrors and each child makes their own face collage cutting out all the parts and assembling them into an accurate face with construction paper. Next the drawing is put onto a background. Below their face they do their best at writing a sentence about how they feel/felt.

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From Camille Johnson of San Jose, California: I gleaned this idea from observing in a classroom in Colorado. I read the book The Kissing Hand to my first graders on the first day. We talk about how the main character felt about starting school. I ask my students how they felt as they got ready for school. Later we make handprints. I use one handprint for a bulletin board "How did you feel on the first day of first grade?" Each child's handprint response is display in the shape of a heart.

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From Tova Natwick of Sioux City, Iowa: I begin the school year with my fourth graders by reading Courage by Bernard Waber. For most of the students it takes some courage, whether small or big, to begin the school year, and it helps remind them how often they are courageous on a daily basis. After we read Courage , the students get together in small groups to brainstorm ways that they have recently used courage and write about them. We compile these and create our own Classroom Courage book.

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Cindy Hawpe of Benbrook, Texas recommends Enemy Pie by Derek Munson: At a summer workshop last year, I learned about this wonderful literacy activity that also ties in a character lesson. After reading and discussing Enemy Pie with your class, the class creates a recipe for friendship. (Example: 2 cups kindness, 1 cup helpfulness). After adding a class picture to the bottom, I placed one copy of the recipe in each child's memory book which she or he takes home at the end of the year.

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  • Erin Fry
    Erin Fry

    Google Storyline Online to watch actors read aloud some of our favorite books. Enemy Pie is a great one!

From Beth Denney of Hogansville, Alabama: When I taught third grade my students helped me create our classroom rules for the year. I read aloud Never Spit on Your Shoes by Denys Cazet. As I read, I'd pause to discuss all the action going on in the illustrations and projected the book on a large screen so students could see the illustrations clearly. After reading aloud, we began discussing rules needed for the classroom for the year and listed them in poster form.

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From Alice Ann Fesmire of Baton Rouge, Louisiana: We read the essay on names from Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street . Then each ninth-grade student looks up his/her name on the baby name sites until we find the root meaning of each name.. Their assignment is to go home and ask why they were given that name, and many of them learn for the first time that they were named for someone. Then they write a piece modeled after Cisneros' example. They learn about themselves and each other.

The House on Mango Street

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  • Eva Medina
    Eva Medina

    Love this book

First grade teacher Carrie Fischer of Imperial, Missouri picks a first read aloud focused on names: During the first week of school, I read a book called The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi. After reading the book, each child takes their name home with a letter to their parents explaining the activity. Each child discusses with their parents how their name was chosen, and what follows are many art, literacy, and community building activities in class.

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Literacy Coach Heather Rader made a commitment to include more informational texts right off the bat including first read alouds. How Things Work in the House was a big hit. Students like learning about rubber ducks, soap, socks, scissors and more. While its illustrations and labels are detailed, the text is short with easy-to-understand language.

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Just in case you haven't heard about Wonder, it's a WONDERFUL read aloud. A piece of advice? Read it yourself first. It will be a tear-jerker to get through and there are issues to think about ahead of time. At one school the student support specialist is using this with her Steps to Respect program. The project will culminate with the students writing their precepts for the year.

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  • Darla Sampley
    Darla Sampley

    This is my current read-aloud in 5th grade and my students and I have great discussion about respecting others and acceptance.

  • Stacey Blount
    Stacey Blount

    http://mrwreads.blogspot.co... I used this link as I read aloud Wonder this past school year. It has great links to a lot of the song lyrics mentioned and much more!

  • Laura Reidt
    Laura Reidt

    This book fostered a year of acceptance in our classroom last year.

Emily's Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is the story of Emily, who has lost her family and is sent to live with an aunt across the country. But the journey is not an easy one, and she has to escape people trying to find her. The cliffhanger chapter headings make this a story that would naturally invite conversation.

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Franki Sibberson shares Capture the Flag by Kate Messner, which is a mystery about a trio of children who meet while stranded in an airport. Someone in the area has stolen the American flag from the local museum, and the three go on a search to find a thief. This is a plot-based book with lots of action that kids would enjoy as a first read aloud.

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Linda Karamatic shared this book with a first-grade teacher to start the year. In the story, a first grader is petrified because a second grader told her a secret: her teacher, Mrs. Watson, is an alien who steals baby teeth from her students. Linda says, "I really like this book, too, because it speaks to the trust that teachers try to build with their students from the moment they meet them."

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Literacy coach Linda Karamatic loves the structure of Manners Mash-Up: A Goofy Guide to Good Behavior. Well-known children's book authors and illustrators deal with the topic of behaviors in a lighthearted, creative way. "I also like the spirit of the authors working together as another example of a collaborative project."

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Professor Mary Ann Reilly has many suggestions for read alouds with global and cultural perspectives. In this pick, María Isabel is the new girl in school and instead of being called by her given name her teacher gives her a substitute name, Mary. A writing assignment provides an opportunity for Maria to express her feelings about her name to her teacher.

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  • Kammera Rice
    Kammera Rice

    This is inluded in the Harcourt "Trophies" series for the fourth grade at my school. It is an ok read, but not one of my students favorites. I like to have them tell me what stories were their favorites out of the anthology. They love the animal nonfiction stories the best!

Shari Frost suggests that the genre that seems to be missing from first read aloud recommendations is poetry. She'd like to fill in that gap with What a Day It Was at School (2006). It has 17 poems about everything that happens in school from heavy backpacks to suffering through gym class. This book has a nice balance of realistic and fantastic poems.

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Dan thinks Flying Solo (Fletcher, 2000) is the perfect book for the first read aloud in sixth grade. The book tells the story of a class that goes through an entire school day without adult supervision. Dan wants his students to be self-directed, take responsibility for their own learning, and support each other. He believes that this book is a wonderful vehicle to begin discussing these ideas.

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Fifth grade teacher, Tony, noticed some students' interest in reading waning. Maybe they were beginning to get a little bored with the series they started reading in previous grades. Whatever the reason, Tony's no-fail first read aloud is The Top Ten Ways to Ruin the First Day of School (Derby, 2004). Before he starts the book, he invites his fifth graders to generate their own top ten lists. Tony reports that this book is falling-on-the-floor, laughing-until-your-sides-hurt funny.

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  • Wendi Richert
    Wendi Richert

    Taylor Parker

  • Taylor Parker
    Taylor Parker

    looking this one up!

Shari Frost surveyed teachers and found that fourth-grade teacher Chris chooses books with same-age protagonists for the first read aloud. Jack Adrift: Fourth Grade Without a Clue by Jack Gantos fit the bill.

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Fourth-grade teacher Melissa Styger chose Greetings from Nowhere because, "It's uniquely written, each chapter in this book tells the story through the perspective of one character at a time. I would like to try a character study or character check in where each student chooses their favorite character to track along the way. This could spur small-group discussions and link beautifully to one of our first thinking strategies: connections."

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  • Annette Gast
    Annette Gast

    Love her writing

One book that fit Franki Sibberson's criteria for a first read aloud was Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans. This is the story of Horten, who moves to a new city with his parents. While there, he discovers that he had an uncle who was a magician, and that his workshop is hidden somewhere in the city. The end pages of this book provide a city map, which would add some visual information to our talk. This story is just plain fun, and it looks like it will be the first in a series.

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