Today is World Read Aloud Day, which always coincides near Dr. Seuss' birthday. In the 10 years I taught kindergarten, this was always a very special week- Seuss Celebration Week! There were so many fun math, literacy, science, and social studies concepts to connect with Dr. Seuss' books. The Lorax was great for talking about respecting the Earth and conservation. Yertle the Turtle could springboard human rights' and the notion that, "I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom, we too should have rights" (1% anyone?). Green Eggs and Ham was perfect for teaching kids to go past their comfort zone sometimes to make delicious discoveries. My absolute favorite Dr. Seuss book to read was always Horton Hatches the Egg. (Spoiler alert!) At the end, when Horton and his elephant-bird baby go home, happy, 100%, it reinforced the concept that the good you put out in the world will find you again.
Reading aloud is my favorite thing to do in the classroom. I love to gather a community of readers together, holding up a book, and inviting them to join me on a new journey. As we sit in our classroom, we still find ways to go around the world, back in time, into the future, into someone's heart and mind. The students are never as quiet as when we are reading together. It troubles me that my third graders don't love to read independently, for them most part, but they all do love a read-aloud. There is something about the community coming to know the same characters, the same stories, that unites us uniquely. In these days of high-stakes tests and text-based answers and all the things that make reading as pleasurable as walking on hot sand, burning them with the sting of getting it "wrong", I will continue to read aloud to my students, hoping they see the vast ocean of possibilities for themselves and their lives. Books are the keys to the kingdom and those of us lucky enough to read to children are the gatekeepers. Which books will you read and which door will be opened for your class today?