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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Actions from Words

When reading aloud to children, I take special care to look at them often, reading ahead so I can say certain phrases with emphasis and connect with the listeners via eye contact and expression. I make sure I scan the whole area, holding each child's gaze at least once during the read-aloud session. Their engagement is obvious. Lately, their actions have indicated that engagement as well. Or maybe I am just noticing it more.

Bunny/Bonita in One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street taps her mom's purple gardening hat and blinks three times in a superstitious effort to keep her mother safe during her travels. In today's chapter, the girls does it when a baby hummingbird is knocked from its nest to the ground. In the third grade listening audience, several children reached up to tap their heads and then blinked three times. They also finger an imaginary heart-shaped stone whenever Ali, the young girl who believes the stone is her wishing stone and keeps it in her pocket for easy rubbing, does so in the story.

Last week in "Dance at Grandpa's," as the aunts combed and braided their hair, the second grade girls started finger-combing each other's hair and then braiding their own hair as they listened. The boys feet began to jig along with Uncle George's during the dance description. 

Parents sometimes express their release from reading aloud to their children once those children can read well themselves. Children love to listen, no matter what the age. I share examples like these to remind them.


  1. You do indeed scan the audience as you read aloud. I've seen you in action, and it's clear that you know your material so well you can focus on the audience as well as the book.

    And as an adult I still love to listen to someone read aloud, especially a skilled reader such as yourself.

  2. remarkable to witness this much mirroring of behavior. this could be wonderful...but it could also have the opposite effect depending on the characters and what they're up to.