Invitation to Read: More Children's Literature in the Reading Program

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9780872073715: Invitation to Read: More Children's Literature in the Reading Program

Editor Bernice Cullinan has gathered a team of outstanding educators to discuss ways to use children's literature in the classroom. Excite your students with the many creative ideas suggested for using poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in a literature-based reading program and for learning across the curriculum. A foreword by Tomie dePaola and an afterward by Bill Martin Jr. frame this book with personal accounts of the importance of literature, language, and reading.

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From the Back Cover:

"Invitation to Read" offers the information you need to build-or strengthen-a successful literature-based reading program. Bernice Cullinan, whose "Children's Literature in the Reading Program" has sold over 100,000 copies, has assembled an outstanding team of educators to write on the wide variety of issues associated with literature-based programs. Inside you'll find practical, creative teaching strategies, recommendations of high-quality books of all types for a broad range of students, ideas about organizing and implementing your reading program, and guidance on selecting the best books for your students.

So invite yourself into the world of teaching with children's literature -- and invite your students to experience the joy of reading.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From the Prologue

When I began teaching I was very young and very scared. I was 17--almost a child myself. I knew I had enough lessons planned to keep my first graders busy for the first two days of school, but then what would I do? I was afraid those 27 six-year-olds were going to rise up against me and get out of hand. I soon learned, though, that I was good at two things: recess and read-aloud. On the playground, I knew exactly what to do. When Hank chased Elmer and Butch across the top of the jungle gym at full speed, I shook my head and they stopped the rough-housing. When Nedra jumped off the teeter-totter so she could watch Dolores crash to the ground, I reminded her about fair play. I felt confident and spoke with authority because on the playground I knew I was in charge.

I also knew I was in charge when I had the power of a good story in my hands. All I needed to do was pick up a storybook and walk slowly to the carpeted corner; 27 children followed me as if I were the Pied Piper. There I sat down regally on a low chair, solemnly opened the book, and looked expectantly into the children's faces to affirm the unspoken promise that no one among us would break the spell of the story. Before I read the first word, 27 pairs of eyes were focused on me and my book. I dropped my voice a register and turned my shoulders to add a bit of drama and mystery to my theatrical moment. I began to read aloud, investing each character with a distinct voice. Requests for encores were blurted out as orders-- "Read it again!"--but I honored them nonetheless. Needless to say, we had lots of recess and read-aloud while I earned my wings as a teacher.

I've kept track of that special group, the very first children I ever taught. They're grown now with children of their own. Last summer at a school reunion, I ran into Hank, one of those former students. If it hadn't been for the same gentle, warm, brown eyes that had stared at me trustingly from a six-year-old's face, I might not have recognized the stocky six-foot man who stood before me. We pulled our lawn chairs into the shad so we could catch up on each other's news. He has four young ones, all but one already in school. As we sipped lukewarm ice tea, he looked at me and said, "I can still hear your voice when I read." Hank reads stories to his own children now, but the voice of his first grade teacher still echoes in his ear.

That legacy may not seem like a great one to some people, but teachers will know what it means to me. We teachers know that we leave something behind that lives on after us. For me, the legacy is a child who discovered the magic of reading through the sound of my voice and who as an adult still hears my voice when he reads to his own children. That's what draws us into teaching; that's what teaching is all about. That's why we continue to teach-we know that we help shape the next generation.

Brod Bagert's poem "The Reader Voice" touches the heart of the read-aloud experience-the child who hears the reader voice. That voice is created by a teacher, librarian, or parent; children hear it and internalize it and eventually use it to give sound to their own voices. This is the same process authors describe when they say they try on other people's styles when they are learning to write and find their own voices. Children, too, imitate the voices around them--whether it's the crisp monotone of the TV newscaster or the stylized voice of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

By reading aloud, teachers and librarians give children a rich, expressive voice they can hear in their heads to help them develop their own voice. We know that the voice children hear in their heads guides their writing voice. In that way, the reader voice nurtures the child's voice-a voice that grows courageous and strong as a child expresses it in writing and reading.

In this book, you hear the voices of people who have given the sound of stories and poems to thousands of children and to teachers to pass along to their own students. I invite you to join the chorus. It can be your voice children remember; you can help them find their own voices as readers and writers. It is a legacy worth leaving.

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