Read Aloud Magic

It was my first classroom and I was determined to make reading magical. I hyped it up all the time. Clearly, if you were cool, you were into books. These 8 year olds were all in! My goodwill supplied classroom library was hopping. Determined to make high interest read-alouds an important part of our day, I strayed from the district supplied basal and supplemented with my own limited read-alouds. I didn’t have that many.

I raved about all the books. All the time. When our copy of Jacqueline Woodson’s The Day You Begin arrived, it was an event. One student saw I had received it and exclaimed, “Can we read it right now?!” The students all sat to hear it. They loved it. We loved it together. We had to make a wait list for who could borrow it.

When I purchased another of Woodson’s books, we read of Clover and Annie and their search for friendship in a time of segregation. The students shifted uncomfortably. I couldn’t tell if I was losing them. As I read Woodson’s words “someday” at the end of the book, the whole room held a pregnant pause. When I closed the book, the pause held one more beat. And then. Applause! They all clapped and cheered! The discussion we had was curious, raw and real.

I’ll never forget that first classroom magic. Each year brings its own magic. I’ve tried to recapture old magic but it is never quite the same. This is a dated reference, but stale classroom magic is like Saved by the Bell: The New Class.

Classroom magic is unique to the group of students, the day and time of the year, and the unique person that each teacher is in a given school year.

It’s Friday and I’m tired, but I’m ready to work with some amazing small people to make some magic.


For the month of March, this blog is all Slice of Life #Sol21

Buy the books I mentioned:

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson

13 thoughts on “Read Aloud Magic

  1. There truly is nothing like making classroom magic. It is so magical that I don’t think anyone except teachers can understand it, or appreciate it. You captured that sentiment so well in this piece. Sending you applause for this slice, and hopes you make magic on this Friday!

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  2. I love the idea of read aloud magic … it is magical. I tweeted this week – When teachers create space for powerful texts, responsive conversation, and an expectation of community, amazing things happen. It is the truth. How lucky your students are to have you! So glad you joined SOL!

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  3. “Classroom magic is unique to the group of students, the day and time of the year, and the unique person that each teacher is in a given school year.” This is pure brilliance! You are sooooo right! I teach third grade, I have a huge treasure trove of books, including my “magic book drawer” that I pull my chapter book read alouds from! Kids will buy that which you sell very well, and when you get them all in on reading you have given them gold! It sounds like you know exactly how to maneuver and manicure your teaching to reach the unique group sitting in front of you at that unique moment. Lucky kids!

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    1. Thanks Suzanne! With Carpet time off the menu this year, our magic has come more from chapter books read aloud – starting with Zapato Power in the fall and now we are reading The Terrible Two. It is an absolute delight to read aloud. The groans that are elicited from the kids when I stop reading show their eagerness to be lost in a story.

      I appreciate your kind words.

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      1. I start every year with Harry Potter. I’m currently reading The Wild Robot having just finished The One and Only Ivan. I will check out your recommendations!

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  4. A book shared from the heart is truly the spark of magic. I love Jacqueline Woodson. Brown Girl Dreaming and Harbor Me are favorites in my classroom. Thanks for the reminder of the joy and connection that a shared read can bring!

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  5. Reading aloud is one of the most powerful things a teacher can do with his or her class, and for the life of me I don’t know why it’s not done in every classroom. Actually, I do know (“There’s no time,” they say), but it’s still a shame. Developing that reading relationship is one of the best things about the process. Our students learn to trust that we’re bringing them good stuff, and the magic starts there. I wrote about reading aloud today as well, and one of my commenters expressed the reservations that some people (not her) have concerning the “level” of books. Sure they might be high, but that’s why we’re reading it to the students! Thanks for sharing this look into your classroom.

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    1. Thanks Tim! Love the thoughts you shared here and in your post. And yes, of course we read “above level ” books aloud. They are vocabulary builders as our voices and occasional discussions show children how to make meaning. I don’t have time NOT to read to students. Though my picture book read alouds have wained a bit in a covid world (it’s not the same), our chapter book read alouds have increased. But we are reading together everyday (plus the reading we do in small groups daily)

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  6. I think that is the part of school I miss the most (I retired last June.) There is nothing like the feeling of sharing a read aloud and seeing children lean in to the story. Keep making magic!

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  7. Classroom read aloud magic is the best. It is what has sustained me this past year. Keep finding those treasures of books. (If stuck for ideas of great reads, check out #classroombookaday and the Global Read Aloud.)

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