When I started my teaching career, 7 years ago, I ended up teaching 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students. I, of course, was licensed for 1st-6th grade. Teaching these students was a little frightening to say the least. Many of my students didn’t enjoy coming to reading class. To break the ice, each period I usually read them a joke or a funny poem. As time went on, I noticed that my students looked forward to hearing the poem for the day. If I forgot, they were sure to remind me to read one to them before the bell rang. I eventually was running low on poems and thought that maybe the students would love to hear a story. For each class the vote was almost unanimous that they would enjoy hearing a read aloud. I read the story “The Giver,” to all the 7th-9th graders my first year. Wow, I was shocked! They loved the read aloud and many students would often state, “Another chapter Mrs. L. Read another one.”
Many other high school teachers felt that I was wasting my students time. They would often state that high schoolers didn’t need to hear things being read to them, they needed to be reading themselves. My goal for completing read alouds was to help the students find pleasure in reading again. When I met with the other high school reading teachers, I noticed that they really didn’t encourage free-reading. The only things the students were reading where stories that were assigned to them with worksheets or some other type of work. The students weren’t reading for excitement or pleasure. They were reading because they had to. Many had lost the fun of reading and I was hoping this would ignite the passion in reading again.
I was inspired to write about this article when I recently read an article written in the School Library Journal by Jess deCourcy Hinds (2015). She describes an experience much like mine. I was surprised to read that when she asked her junior high students how many had been read aloud to as a child, only a quarter of them raised their hand. deCourcy Hinds stated that her students were, “starved for storytelling.” Her article goes on to state other ways that high school teachers have helped students not only find the pleasure in reading again but how read alouds help students with their comprehension, fluency, and listening skills. I would suggest reading this article as it gives many true examples that really proved how read alouds can help high school students find a life-long love of reading.
Jess deCourcy Hinds Article:
If you are a high school reading teacher and want to start this inspiring process for your own students check out YA Love blog: