I read aloud to my students every day. We devour a stead diet of articles, picture books, long chapter books, and short ones. I don’t consider a day of teaching complete unless I have read aloud. In my own reading life, I often read books wondering if they will make a good read aloud. There are a lot of books that make that list – good books to read aloud. Then there is another category – the great read alouds. This category is lined with the memories I have of those special read aloud books. Titles like The One and Only Ivan, Wonder, Mark of the Dragonfly, Bluebird, Charlotte’s Web, I Want My Hat Back. These books are wonderful in their own right, but when read aloud, magic happens. Recently, I found a new volume to add to this special category.
I knew Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen was destined for greatness from the moment I began reading it. I loved the story, the illustrations, everything about it. Slowly, I began imagining this picture book as a read aloud. I was certain it would be a favorite. I thought, I knew, my fifth graders would enjoy it. I hadn’t anticipated, however, just how much they would. It was magic.
When I brought this book into class, I knew I wanted to read it to each of my three language arts classes. I typically read aloud while we are seated on the carpet. Because of the illustrations in this one, I wanted to read it under the document camera as well. I felt like the kids needed to see the illustrations up close.
From the first page, they were vocal. This was no quiet read aloud, there were choruses of, “OH MY GOSH!” and “NO!!!” and “I bet they’re going to turn down now.”
These fifth graders shed their pre-teen personas and became the kids they once were, that they truly still are deep down. Eagerly awaiting each page turn, they begged me to hurry so we could find out what happens next. I am not one to spoil the book, so I will simply say that the end left them silent and then, at once, full of questions and predictions. We flipped from the first page to the last several times to gain what little insight we could into the final events of the story.
I know some teachers believe picture books are best left for the younger grades. I simply don’t understand that mindset. Picture books come with no age restrictions. They are the perfect text to share whether you are one or one hundred and one. And a great read aloud? It knows no age limit either. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole belongs in the read aloud hall of fame.
How about you? Do you have a favorite read aloud? Please share in the comments.