Friday Read Aloud

The Slice of Life Story Challenge is hosted at Two Writing Teachers

I breathed out slowly.  Twenty-nine pairs of eyes looked at me pleadingly.  Don’t stop reading they begged.  Don’t stop.  I flipped ahead a few pages but I didn’t need to.  I knew what was coming.  If I kept reading today would be the day that Jen would die.  Was I prepared?

I knew from conversations that they had no inkling of what was about to happen.  Although they had read books where characters have died before, I knew they wouldn’t be expecting this one.  This one would be a slap in the face.  Some books are like that.

I forged on.  They snuggled in, excited at the extra reading time.  Children cuddled with each other on the couch, enraptured as I mustered as much drama and emotion as I could without pushing myself over the edge.  Just before the moment, the line, I looked at them.  A few had begun to suspect, but this would be a shock to most of them.

As I kept reading and delivered the news that one of their favorite characters had died standing up for what she believed in, there was an audible gasp.  Then quiet tears.  I continued to read, dabbing my eyes.  We shared this moment together.

One student began crying a little harder than the rest.  She was extremely upset and I quietly urged her to go get a tissue.  Several friends got up to give her a hug.  I paused my reading for a moment and somehow the class took that as a silent cue.  They all got up and rushed together into a large group hug.  They came apart laughing and crying. quietly reassuring each other that everything would be ok.  Then they went back to their places on the carpet to listen to the rest.

In our class we attempt to find our humanity through books.  Last Friday we succeeded.

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9 Responses to Friday Read Aloud

  1. JenniferM says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing your powerful moment with us! I love your concluding statement about trying to “find our humanity through books”. That’s what reading is all about, and what teaching is all about!

  2. I was tearing up reading about the kids tearing up! Powerful experiences and characters they will never forget. :)

  3. Jennifer K. says:

    I totally felt like I was in the moment. This reminds me of the time I read aloud Bridge to Terabithia FOR THE FIRST TIME ever, so I didn’t expect Leslie to die, but there I was, in the moment, reading it aloud while my students and I cried together. I realized then that I should read the books first (or at least talk to someone who has) in order to understand what happens. :) Thanks for sharing your moment!!!

  4. elsie says:

    This is so well written. I was there, in the room, eyes tearing up along with you and your students. I love it when a book catches you and holds you in its web. What an excellent example of show don’t tell!

  5. Jasmine Dwyer says:

    So powerful! I love teaching my class this way also. I believe teaching values, empathy and tolerance is paramount and literature is the vehicle. What was the text you read?

    Have you read Ali the Bold Heart?
    Four Feet Two Sandles?
    Let the Celebrations begin?
    Ladder to the Moon?

    Jasmine

  6. Deb Day says:

    Wow–you grabbed me from the beginning and held me til the end. You did a fabulous job creating this moment. I was right there with you! Now, I have to know…what book were you reading?

  7. Linda Baie says:

    What a special moment for you with the students. You will remember this for a long time, and the class will remember that they could comfort each other! Good read alouds make all the difference. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  8. I love the sense of community (and humanity, as you mentioned) a shared read aloud builds in the classroom. These are moments that stay with us as teachers and I know this moment will live in the hearts of those students as well!

  9. Tara says:

    This made my day – this is exactly what we were up to as well, and you made me see that November was not lost to non-learning days!

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