At times it feels like Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook is repeating the same thing over and over again but I think that sometimes things need to be said many different ways, with many different stats for it to reach some people. Chapter 6 really struck me in the differences between the ‘halfs’ and the ‘half-nots’. I normally don’t like that phrase but it works many ways. It is not just social economic status (however that is a big part of it) it is also about books, newspapers, magazines, libraries, and librarians. If they are present achievement is higher than if they are not!
In my past life as a teacher-librarian read many articles, books and references on the impact of librarians and well stocked libraries. It is nice to see many of these same stats it in a more popular and well read publication. Trelease clearly sums up one such study on page 108:
A higher number of books per pupil and a full-time librarian meant an eleven-point advantage, and that a higher percentage of the student body visiting the library per week accounted for a twelve-point advantage.
There are many more studies just like this one with the same results, but I have seen first hand that it still doesn’t seem to make a difference in school programming and scheduling.
I loved that one section is titled: How many Books Should be in the Home Library? I have a bit of an addiction to collecting children’s books. This is a pet peeve of my husband who routinely says our kids have way too many books. I think I may make him read this section of chapter 6. I am still working on organizing and cataloguing all our books, I have barely started and have 220 cataloged.
Print in the home is a proven life changer worldwide. Using data from seventy thousand families in twenty-seven nations, accumulated of multiple decades, researchers showed more books in the home led to a higher grade-leve completion rate. (page 111)
Trelease has another great section where he comments on series books, often called ‘trash’ or ‘junk’ books. I have never had a concern with this as a teacher or a teacher-librarian but I do love his quote:
Our job is to lead them eventually to the better books by reading aloud to them. (page 120)
Finally I just wanted to talk a bit about how this chapter is causing me to think about my own classroom. I have a fair number of books in my classroom but I think I could do a better job organizing them and displaying them for the class. I have three permanent sections: non-fiction, fiction, and concept (math, abc, etc). In these three section the bins are labelled by theme (Clifford, bugs, colours, etc), but the books are not facing out. In another shelf I rotate books that are relevant to current student interests or time of year and these are all facing out. I am happy with both of these set-ups but think I need to take a bit more time specifically modelling how to use them with my class. After reading chapter 6 I want to create another section for other forms of reading: magazines & newspapers. I am really interested in knowing how others use & display these types of media in their Kindergarten rooms. In particular I would love to know what publications are put out. Currently we get Chirp and Hightlights and I think I would like to get National Geographic Little Kids next year. I am going to try and get copies of our local newspapers – weekly and daily but will have to make sure I check the content prior to putting them out. I would love to hear what others are doing.