We are never too old to be soothed by read-alouds. There is something about the melodious sounds of a reading that quiets the savage beast within us. The other day, I was working with a class of second graders who I had totally lost. It was a Friday and they only had about ten or fifteen minutes left to the school day.
They were coming upon a three-day weekend. The sun had just come out after a heavy downpour. And what was I trying teach? Math. Yea, right. It was a washout for me at that point. They were rolling around on the carpet, chatting with friends and sharpening pencils. They had already checked out and I was about to lose it too, until their classroom teacher walked in and handed me a book.
I was reluctant to open it because I thought I could bring them back; but my better mind told me to open the book. I had never read this book before so I was focused on the words, trying to make sure that I was saying them correctly. I did not know the storyline, so we were being introduced together to Tom Rath’s book, How Full is Your Bucket for Kids.
In the story, a little boy named Felix is being mean to his younger sister and his grandfather tells him that everyone has an invisible bucket. He reminds Felix that harsh words are like drips that empty the bucket or deplete us. Kind words are like drops in the bucket which build our self-esteem and confidence. So the class had to say either, drip or drop, depending on the words being spoken in the story.
But here is the thing. I was so engaged in reading the story that I didn’t realize that there were no sounds in the room. I finally looked up and saw that the students were on their knees trying to see what was happening with Felix. They were so quiet. It was unbelievable!
There is that beauty of the spoken word which is calming and it brings back the true of art of imaging. My mother used to read Little Women to us when we were small, right before bedtime. We did let her forget because we wanted to know what was happening with Jo, her sisters and the March family.
A good read-aloud helps us visualize as we see our own personal pictures. Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook writes “A child that has been read to will want to learn to read. Also, it increases a child’s attention span.”
I thank the classroom teacher who handed me Rath’s book because it got their attention. I think it averted a mini crisis as we eased towards that wonderful sound of the dismissal bell.
September 14, 2015