Most of you already know I teach high school English. Two things I strongly believe are missing from today's high school curricula are character education and teacher read-alouds. When kids are in elementary school, we know they need to be taught and reminded of how to treat others. We know they love being read to and that it's good for them at that age. At what point do those things cease being important?
From my high school classroom perspective, I know without doubt that my students still need and can benefit from both lessons. We all remember how difficult some of the social structures in high school can be - the lines are clearly drawn, territories painfully obvious. Character education should be a critical part of daily learning for teens.
But what about reading? We all know what reading does for kids. I know from first-hand experience how much all teens love to be read to, but especially teen boys. Surprised? It is the best way I know of to get non-reader boys to fall in love (or back in love) with books. A couple of years ago, I read aloud two chapters of The Lightning Thief in my lower-level, at-risk class. The students in that class were all below-grade-level readers who claimed they HATE reading. After that, my son's collection of Percy Jackson books made its way through almost every student, all boys. Last year the same thing happened after I read chapters of Artemis Fowl and The 39 Clues. The beauty of it is, it doesn't require me to read the entire book--just a few chapters and they're hooked. Gotta love it.
According to Mem Fox, "Most people, if asked the best time to read aloud to adolescent boys, would probably say never! But they would be wrong."
Better Than Life by Daniel Pennac is a book about reading aloud to older children:
Its focus is adolescents, mainly boys, who've been turned off reading altogether. In an elegant and moving manner, Pennac explains how he switches his students back into loving books and reading. What's his secret? Reading aloud.
How do you feel about reading aloud to older children?