A few years ago my Partner in Crime and I found that we had a group of kindergarten students who absolutely had no idea how to listen to books. Most had never been read to so they had no concept of the fact that if they sat and listened books could be fun. They didn't understand that they could hear a story, or that the pictures would entertain them, or that they needed to listen quietly to hear the exciting parts. After working with our literacy coach we decided to take one giant step backwards, throw out our current lesson plans and teach how to listen to a book.
This involved many dramatic and involved read alouds. Lots of singing and jumping with the text, pointing to the words and laughing, acting out stories, asking the kids to turn the pages, and just general "read it with me" whenever we read repetitive texts. We read stories over and over again, with the same amount of enthusiasm and energy each time. We looked for books that would excite them- not our favorite books, not books with beautiful pictures or good lessons- books that would hold their attention and make them want to see what happened next.
My teaching has never been the same.
Ever since then my beginning of the year read alouds are the equivalent of a one woman play. They are dramatic and engaging and fully involve the audience. We build community and our literacy skills all together and really spend time celebrating these books. We practically sing and dance to each book. Although some of my children cannot write their names or identify the letters in their names they can pick up a book from our "read aloud" pile and "read" it to themselves. They get lost in the books just like we adult readers do. They start to build the reason why they are going to work so hard on learning to write their names and learning their letters.
Here's a few of my favorite interactive read alouds:
-Anything by Mo Willems (The Pigeon Wants a Puppy, Piggy and Gerald, Knuffle Bunny)
-Mrs. Wishy Washy
-Pete the Cat (any of the books, but especially Rocking in my School Shoes)
-The Recess Queen
-Purple, Green, and Yellow by Robert Munch
-Thomas' Snowsuit by Robert Munch (OK, I save this one for winter, but it's a great interactive read aloud)
-Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas
-PJ Funny Bunny
What are your favorite exciting read alouds?