The Power of Reading Aloud

Something happened today that I wish I could bottle and sell. I wish I had a hidden camera in my library so that I could share with you what I witnessed today. But, alas, no camera. I shall attempt to paint the picture for you, but I know it cannot capture the full essence. Even now, as I close my eyes and picture it happening, I am awash with emotion, goosebumps rising on my arms.

You see, it's Thursday. If you've read my blog for a little while, you know that I love Thursday. I love Thursday for the sheer fact that the fifth grade class I've been reading with is especially eager to revisit Melody and find what awaits her. They relish the thought of Melody really saying what's on her mind. Justice is important to them, and they await her getting some.

I was already sitting in my "spot" when they came in. The students quickly chose a floor space , chair or table seat. Settled in, we began to read. Slowly in some parts. Hastily in others without a breath without a pause growing faster and faster to build excitement. (intentionally poorly punctuated). I would pause to clear my throat, and as I placed the marker in the book would be met with "NO! YOU CAN'T STOP NOW!"Smiling, I'd start again~ watching the students settle back in.

Sharon Draper's words are so beautiful~ so poignant, that we are all transported directly into Melody's head. I began to see my students shift. Some of my boys began to pace the room. Girls hugged their knees to their chests. Many children had their heads down and eyes covered- with either hands or tshirts pulled up over their noses to their brows. The beauty of this moment was not lost on me the reader.  You see, a phenomenon was happening in my periphery. I looked up from my book to find that a few children had physically moved closer to me~ some standing. My voice wavering,  I continued to unfurl the story that Melody told. She explained why she said it was all her fault. We cried. We paused. We dove in again. None of us wanted the moment to end- but we didn't want to face the end either, as many feared worse than it truly was. And then, Mrs. V. received the phone call. There were cheers. There was relief. There were tears (and not just me this time). And then:

"It's not fair. I didn't think a book could do that to me, " one young man shared. 

Our class had run almost 10 minutes long today. We were totally wrapped up in our book. We shared reading. We felt together. We laughed and cried together. We became a community. 

And so, I wish I had a camera rolling on that experience. Rarely have I ever seen a group of students so connected to a story that they emote. Never have I experienced it in such a way as today. 

I remain, humbled to witness their reactions. I am blessed to be part of an experience helping them to find the depth in a book. But mostly, I am totally overwhelmed by the simple power of reading aloud. 


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