Friday, August 28, 2009

A New Read-Aloud Category

After the third day of school, I have a new category for choosing read alouds: Books That Work When Everyone is Hot and Sweaty.

As you can probably guess, my school (which is charming in so many ways!) does not have air conditioning. I forget the implications of this until I'm actually in my classroom, faced with 23 little flushed faces. The first few weeks of school are the worst. When the fans are going, voices are lost in the hum of white noise. When they are turned off, everything is just still, moist, and humid.

This complicates read aloud time. The wrong book choice can make everyone hotter and more miserable. Miss Rumphius, one of my favorites for cooler months, is torture to read during the hot weeks, as are other longer books. We need books that yield their secrets quickly.

Which leads to the new category. Books that Work When Everyone Is Hot and Sweaty are books that transcend our momentary discomfort and help us to feel better. Usually they are short, interesting, and funny. Today's pick was Dr. Xargle's Book of Earthlets. While I read this aloud to two different classes, we were briefly transported beyond the 99% humidity and into a world of talking and sharing. In this book, the alien Dr. Xargle explains Earthlets (babies) to a class. The kids loved figuring out what Dr. Xargle was really talking about--for example, we worked our way through the way that Earthlets are born without fangs, and have to drink milk through a whole in their faces. No one complained through the entire twenty minutes, and the good feelings carried us through the rest of the class.

Dr. Xargle was just the thing to perk us up and get us through another humid Friday afternoon. But Monday is approaching fast. Any new additions to the category of Books That Work When Everyone Is Hot and Sweaty? Please comment below. Twenty-three fourth graders are counting on you!

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