A Year of Read-Aloud Classics

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Back when I was in the classroom, I was given what every teacher nowadays dreams of:  30 minutes a day to enrich her students in a manner that wasn't dictated by the district, state, or federal government.

Teaching my gifted students came with its own set of unique challenges, but I loved this little pocket of time each day that we were given to really explore something special as a class.

And what did I focus our attention on?

Why, books, of course!

Even though all of my students were reading far above their required second-grade reading level, I knew that reading books aloud to them was still worthwhile.

I shocked many when I developed my particular reading list (and needed to look to nearby middle and high schools for class sets of some of these titles), but I truly believe that students rise up to the challenges set before them and a few of these classics did just that.

Reading this list of books will pretty much take an entire school year to do (& the order was carefully planned to coincide with holidays as well as my students' developing maturity levels), so if you follow along, you'll be pretty much set.

Back at school, we would read a chapter a day and then spend our remaining "golden" time on class discussions, journal work, and creating a portfolio of higher-order mini-projects.

I plan to share more about this extra work in the future, but for now, I'm divulging my book list - because read-alouds transcend the experience of merely reading a work out loud to a group...

Charlotte's Web

A great book to begin the year with - this book is appropriate for even the youngest readers and no one will bat an eye at the fact that you're focusing on it, despite the ending.

Bonus: the setting of this work fits so nicely with the fall harvest season as a real-life backdrop.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Once I'd fooled everyone into believing our year would be a quiet, predictable one, BAM!  I'd roll into this short classic - which is timed to begin just when Halloween is peeking around the corner.

This work was always sure to produce a bit of controversy, but there's just so many paths that can be followed from it and the students really had a chance to study some unique topics, as a result.

Little House in the Big Woods

After such a wild ride with the previous book, we could all use a dose of "Little House."

As Thanksgiving time came and went, most of my class would agree that they were thankful they didn't grow up in Laura's time!

Extra bonus:  this book never fails to hook several young readers into the entire series!

A Christmas Carol

"Your'e reading what to second-graders?" I would hear each year, just before our winter break.

Yes, I was introducing Dickens to 7- and 8-year-olds, and they were eating it up.

You don't believe me?  Just show them this movie after you finish the book at Christmastime, and you'll agree.

Alice in Wonderland

We remained in Britain while the calendar switched to a new year, following our own rabbit trails as we enjoyed this classic.

Bonus:  this book is great for introducing poetry to little ones - plus, there's plenty of hype about it at the moment, since this movie just came out.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Students who were already familiar with the film were shocked to learn just how many liberties a movie can take with an original book (spoiler alert:  Dorothy's slippers weren't red!!)

This classic has become America's "greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale" and many children are shocked and excited to discover that it engendered an entire series of sequels!

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Oh, the discussions that can be had while reading this book.

It was always interesting to me to see the differences with this particular selection each year  - I would save this one for last because the level of thinking of my students by this point could get very deep.

Bonus:  this book is not only a gateway for the entire Narnia series, but can lead readers to this one, as well.

So even if your house (or classroom) is full of fluent readers, take time each day to read some classic works aloud - you'll be amazed to see the resulting discussions and thinking that develop throughout the year

Are there other classic pieces of literature that you've read to your family?  Do you find yourselves discussing deep topics or themes after each chapter, or is everyone in your audience content to just listen to the story?  I'd love to hear!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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  1. Great books! We've read most of these, though we still need to read Alice in Wonderland. #thisishowweroll

  2. Amen sister.... Love the classics and the practice of reading every day. Thanks for sharing with the Cozy Reading Spot

  3. This is a great list of books. I've read them all and we also read them aloud together as a family. Thanks for sharing with us at #LMMLinkup!

  4. My daughters have read many of these at their school which is classical education based. I even recognize the book covers you have posted. Thanks for sharing your post with us at @CCBG. http://tryit-likeit.com/link-party-it

  5. I am ashamed to admit that I have not read the majority of the books on your list. Isn't that sad? I love the movies made from several, I have no idea why I have not read them. The Little House on the Prairie were favorites as a child, it's nice to see that they still are! I bet this list would be great for homeschooled children, or even as family reading time! Sharing, I love all your tips and ideas!

  6. I love to read and I love when you can encourage a child to read...(My kids never picked up my habit :-( ) Thanks for sharing on My 2 favorite Things on Thursday! Pinned!

  7. It's like seeing old friends! Thanks for sharing with us at Throwback Thursday!


  8. Great reading suggestions. I loved reading aloud to my boys. Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home.

  9. I love this list and I love the way you don't underestimate children! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com this week!

  10. These are great! My son when he was as young as 4 was listening to chapter books on cd when we drove around in the car; he started acting out the Percy Jackson series within just months. I think children are often capable of understanding books far above their reading proficiency and it's wonderful to introduce them to larger vocabulary words and different styles of writing.