Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Building Community Through Books

One of the most important things a teacher needs to do in those first few days of school is to create a community.  The classroom needs to be a place where the students feel safe. It needs to be a place where students can take a risk and know they will not be laughed at or ridiculed. When a child enters the classroom, he needs to know they he has joined a family of learners.

A way to build that community is through Read Alouds. Every year for the last several years, I would receive an email or phone call from the fourth or fifth grade teachers in one of my elementary schools. The call would be asking if these teachers could borrow my "community" books.  I would pack them up in a box or basket and head over to deliver them personally. There was just something about actually seeing the children who would be interacting with these books.

Now that I am retired that phone call never came. I still have those books in one of my baskets here in my "space" at home.  I glanced through them today. Here are a few of my favorites and why they were picked to go in this beginning-of-the-year basket!
  • Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes: I always started my second grade year with this book. It was a way to show students that everyone is special and names are important. We then would do a study on where our names came from and where our parents got our name.
  • Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud: what a wonderful book on helping children to look outside themselves and think of others.
  • Don't Laugh at Me by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin: this actually is a song. It again helps children to treat others as they would want to be treated.
  • Mr. Peabody's Apples by Madonna: This is an old story retold, but with a wonderful message everyone needs to be reminded of again and again. Be careful what you say, you can never get those words back.
  • Wolf! by Becky Bloom: This is a great book to show the power of reading. A great one to start off your independent reading time!
  • The Conversation Club by Diane Stanley: with the common core state standards emphasising the art of conversation, this book is a perfect way to kick off discussion about talking!
The last one I recommend for everyone. I used it many times in professional development as well as classrooms. Walk On! A Guide for Babies of All Ages by Marla Frazee. As you begin your new year, don't be afraid to take those first few steps. Yes, you may fall down, but get right back up and keep walking!

Let me know how your community of readers and writers is doing!


Donna said...

You must read Sue's post today at http://educationeveryday.blogspot.com/2012/08/choose-your-attitude.html
for what appears to be another great year starter book!

Nanc said...

Wow...some of them I knew and some I haven't read. Thanks for the one about babies...I'm going to try it with a workshop coming up. xo

Mrs. V said...

I just read this post by Donalyn Miller about building community with books a little bit before I clicked over to start reading slices - http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/book_whisperer/2012/08/books_that_build_community.html

It is always fun to see multiple educators thinking through similar topics. I loved the line where you were talking about the power of seeing the students, rather than just dropping off books.

Lynn said...

Wow! What a great collection...thanks for sharing.

Linda at teacherdance said...

It's a great list. I know some & have used them, but not Wolf or The Conversation Club. Thanks for sharing the great titles.

OneSunflower said...

Yes, I agree, the books I choose to read at the beginning of the year are essential to building community. I find my students reference them throughout the year. My students are younger so I choose books with repetitive lines, story lines that invite my children to be participants - like The Color Box and Go Away Big Green Monster.

Amy Rudd said...

Wow, awesome list of books! Thanks for sharing it...Chrysanthemum and Have you filled a bucket today are on my chalk board ledge-waiting to be opened and read when we start school next week...I will also look up some of the other titles you mentioned and get familiar with them as well!

Dana said...

Thanks for the ideas!

Stacey said...

Great book list with stellar rationales! Quite a few of them are new to me.