Slice of Life: A Roald Dahl-ish Day

Slice of Life 2011Yesterday was World Read Aloud Day. I had never heard of it until Donalyn Miller tweeted about it. How can you go wrong with reading out loud to students? I carved out some time our day yesterday with all four of my classes and pulled out a Roald Dahl collection. From there, I entertained my students with some craziness that only Dahl could conjure up.

I read out parts of The Twits, and then James and the Giant Peach, and then The BFG and finally, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. My kids loved it, and the section from The BFG went over the best — it’s the part where he is telling the girl about how he collects dreams in glass bottles and then blows them gently into people’s heads at night.

At home, I read aloud a lot to my kids, although the oldest has mostly lost interest (except for when he pretends to be petting the dog but is really listening) and the middle son comes and goes on the couch. But the six year old is now at the perfect age. We just finished up, as fate would have it, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (see my review and a review by a student of mine), and have now moved on to a Spiderwick Chronicle book.

I love the closeness of the experience of reading a book out loud. I love how he reads me chapter titles now (which he couldn’t do just a few months ago), how we both get excited about the story, and how telling him stories is activating all sorts of things in his brain. I’m already feeling wistful that he will be last one in the house to sit for long spells with me. But I have a few more years with him, and I have my kids at school, too, who still love to hear a good story read out loud.

Peace (in the book),

  1. Dear Kevin,
    The phrase “the closeness of experience” speaks to me. I am reading “The BFG” in Estonian to my six year old daughter. Raold Dahl is one of my favorite authors, and I was thrilled when they started translating him to my mother tongue. The translators have done a pretty good job considering that Raold Dahl has some untranslatable wordplay in his books. Before this I read “The Tale of Desperaux” to my daughter. Twice. She loved it so much. Kate Dicamillo is another author whose books I could read more than once. My fourth graders love her books too. I am so glad that read aloud is strongly supported in our primary classrooms.
    I also liked your title of this post. That’s what caught my eye.
    Happy reading out loud!

    • Oops. I apologize for my spelling mistakes. I am not sure how it was possible to misspell Roald twice and have a small c in DiCamillo, considering that both are my favorite authors. I am sorry.

  2. Roald Dahl is one of the absolute favorites with my three boys. Like you, our read-aloud time has shifted in recent months as my two older boys now read so much independently. I love that they are quick to pick up a book without my prompting and just find a space to read, but I miss the closeness of reading together at night. Maybe during the summer, we can carve out more time for that. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Ah Roald Dahl! So much fun to read…we read sections of “Boy” (the great mouse escapade) recently and the kids begged for the whole book.

  4. I love this slice, Kevin (and hi, by the way, after a long absence!). I loved being read to as a child, and I haven’t lost that love at all. I listed to “Selected Shorts” on NPR whenever I have the time because it’s still so great to close my eyes and enjoy being read to. When I was an adult literacy teacher, I remember talking with my students about how being read to as a child influenced my love of books and reading … only to learn that not one of my students had ever been read to as a child. Not one. That shocked and saddened me. And inspired several important staff development conversations about the possible/probable connections between their liminted literacy and missing that childhood experience.

    I’m glad you still have years of that left with your youngest (and that your oldest has realized that he can pet the dog and still get to enjoy something he thinks he’s too old for!). Thanks for sharing this lovely slice and for getting me thinking!

  5. Love the story Kevin. My five year old and I are nearing the end of James and the Giant Peach, our second read aloud and my first experience with Dahl other than sections of Boy I’ve used to help teach memoir. Whenever my wife or I make a decision he isn’t fond of he refers to us as Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker.

    Thanks for the reminder that this special time is finite.

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