My greatest pleasure, when substituting for the younger grades, is reading to the class. I was lucky enough to enjoy this privilege when my own children were in grade school. My children would choose their favorite stories for me to read to the class, usually Dr. Seuss or Bill Peet books. Other times, they wanted me to read one of my works-in-progress, a new children’s adventure short story. For those, I’d bring in visuals, magazine photos of bats or caves, or family camping photos of locations we’d visited. Sometimes my son or daughter would draw pictures to go along with my children’s stories.
Whenever we have extra time in class or if the teacher says that the substitute can either read a story to the class or allow free play time, I choose to read to the students. And I don’t just read. I sing, as in the poetry of the words of the story. In the youngest stories there is usually a cadence, a flow that a reader can capture for the children. Dr Seuss and Bill Peet (and many other authors) excel at having a rhythm to their story words.
Then there are the possibilities in the stories. What happens next? Always give the children a chance to think about what could happen next and what it would mean to the protagonist [main character] of the story. This works on students’ critical thinking skills.
Reading a good story to students can relieve tension in the classroom, both the teacher’s and the students’. After a session of structured teaching, reading can allow teachers and students the chance to relax and ready themselves for the next subject.
If you’re ever lost for something to do when substituting, or if the students are becoming rambunctious while you struggle with lesson plans, pluck a book from the classroom bookshelves and bring the students to the carpet. Reading gives both children and adults a chance to imagine the possibilities.
6 thoughts on “The Pleasure of Reading to Children”
I agree with this post completely. Good advice. When I was a sub, I often brought a few books that would fit with the age group I'd have with me. Saved me a few times!
I always carry a few of my favorite stories when subbing at the elementary level. You're right. They do save us, many times.
I also bring in a few grade appropriate "science" items, i.e. Sugar, Sequoia, and Redwood pinecones, baby conch sea pods, especially if I've been subbing for the same class for a few days.
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I blame my writing career on my primary school teacher who read The Hobbit to the class. I didn't read much before that, but I fell in love with the written word because of him.
I still feel that everyone likes [and possibly needs] to be read to. Think about the books on tape. Someone is reading the book to you. I'm always listening to books as I do household chores. Of course, I must admit that I am studying how, exactly, the writer has put his or her story together. [The writer mindset!]
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I love reading to children. I have babysat children and have read them stories before they went to bed. I've babysat a 2 year old who just wanted to turn the pages and hear me talk and I've babysat an 8 year old who wanted me to read her stories as well. It doesn't matter the age; children love to be read too.
This is so true, Michelle Kathryn. Everyone, even adults, likes to be read to. I find it very relaxing, for both the listener AND the reader, especially when reading to young children.
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