Some of my best friends are books. My earliest friends were introduced to me by my parents’ voices, which were mysteriously calmer when they were influenced by the pages rather than my actions as a toddler. Growing up with a lot of brothers and sisters of so many ages, there weren’t a lot of activities we did together we all agreed on. Yet, when my dad grabbed “Hand Hand, Finger Thumb” of the shelf, the only arguments we had were about who got to sit where. Listening to my dad’s voice recite the same poem over and over – and getting to shout the chorus with him – brought us together no game of tag or house or train tracks did.
I don’t particularly remember many of my elementary teachers reading out loud to us, but I do remember the librarian reading us a new picture book each week. It was so exciting to see what story we would get to hear that day because they always matched the season or holiday coming up. In middle school, we moved on from just being read to, to popcorning around the room. My classmates thought being read to was crazy. We weren’t little kids, we could do it ourselves, why didn’t the teachers trust us enough to let us read to ourselves? Once I got to high school, being read to was a pass to zone out while and hope that one nerd in the class would explain the plot to you at lunch. Unfortunately for my classmates, I let them wallow in their ignorance and kept the storyline to myself.
As I was reading “Book Love”, I kept thinking about the most important place, to me, where I have been read to my whole life; church. If reading out loud wasn’t the most efficient way to capture everyone’s attention and understanding, why would some of the oldest practices in the world still use it into 2017? I always found listening to the readings every week to be comforting and uniting. Everyone from my grandparents to my younger cousins sat in the pew together and listened to the same stories.
As a teacher, I definitely plan on reading out loud to my classes, for more than one reason. Not only is it a way to build a better relationship with my students, they will all get to learn at the same pace. Independent reading has an infinite number of advantages, but reading out loud lets everyone take in the information in unison and reassures they do, with an equal chance, free of distractions that may be present outside the classroom. My other reason? The way I see it, if I teach about six classes a day, and read each a different book, I can read six more books at a time than usual!!