Thursday, March 7, 2013

Slice of Life Seven - World Read Aloud Day

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers. For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a Slice A Day.

I do not remember a time without books. Searching my memory banks, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know how to read, how to choose a book, or even how to go about getting a book. My parents are both big readers, always have been. I clearly remember having books read aloud as a child. I also remember picking up books to read to myself, even when I didn’t know what they meant.

I don’t remember much about Kindergarten beyond the carpet having a hopscotch pattern on it, but I do remember first grade. I think I was a bit in love with my teacher. Miss Tuck wore button down shirts, untucked, with a skinny belt around her waist. I quickly began to dress like her, tried to act like her too. A friend and I could both read every story in the first grade reader, so she moved us ahead in our own little group. When I was in second grade she had me come back to her classroom and read aloud The Monster at the End of this Book. I still remember making the kids laugh by putting inflection in my voice, powerful stuff for a seven-year-old. The seed for wanting to teach was planted.

As I grew up I continued to devour books. Often my parents would ask me to put books away at family gatherings and tell me I needed to talk to people when they were over. I would, but my mind would be on the characters in the book. I needed to know what would happen to them.

In middle school and high school my reading took a bit of a dip. I didn’t always like the books assigned in class. I occasionally read with my own book nestled inside of another book. And my mom would continue to push me – asking me to try certain classics she was sure I would like.

By high school my main form of reading came from TV – if it was a mini-series, I’d read it. Lonesome Dove, North and South, The Winds of War, I read them all. I also read true high quality literature – a series called Couples. Holy smokes, they were horrid, but delightfully so. I loved them.

So reading has always been a part of my life. Books surround me – house, car, purse – I always have one near. So I was glad to celebrate World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) on the 6th. The sad fact is illiteracy is still a huge problem in this world. 793 million people cannot read. WRAD is to bring awareness to that fact.

Unfortunately for us, WRAD falls right into the week of state testing. As a result, I wasn’t able to schedule many Skype visits. However, I did have my mom come into my room. My mom is a retired teacher who is my substitute as often as possible when I am gone. My students know her well. She came in and read Now One Foot, Now the Other by Tomie dePaola. This was one of my brother’s favorite books when he was younger. After she read it, I read dePaola’s Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs. They commented that it was sad but good. We then moved on to reading our current read aloud book, The Lightning Thief.

A short excerpt of my mom reading aloud to my class.

I cannot imagine my life without books. I can’t imagine a classroom without time to read aloud. Stories are part of us – whether shared by passing them down or passing the book. One of my favorite all-time quotes is from a post C. Alexander London wrote for Nerdy Book Club last year. I think it best expresses what we should celebrate and what I try and celebrate daily.

It’s a fact: people can survive without books. People can even have wonderful, full lives without books. But they can’t long endure without community, and community is built on stories.
C. Alexander London - December 2011