"Things they didn’t mean to. Over and over they’re telling me that the books I wrote for them to read are being read to them by their teachers. And hearing a story read doesn’t seem to expand their vocabularies. If a teacher is going to take limited classroom time in reading aloud (and even giving away the ending), the least she could do is hand out a list of vocabulary from the reading to be looked up and learned."
Huh? Vocabulary sheets to go along with read alouds? Looking up words and writing out definitions? Did we step into some time warp? Are kids writing to Peck asking for more worksheets? Or has Mr. Peck done some recent research that has not been published that refutes decades of research indicating the power and importance of reading aloud? Having just written about this topic again for my forthcoming book, the research is clear: reading aloud improves test cores (including comprehension and vocabulary) and, more essentially, provides reading motivation for kids. Recent research by some of my colleagues (Karen Sue Gibson and Vickey Giles) also points to the power of reading aloud. When kids are asked what educators can do to motivate them to read, reading aloud is among the top responses. This, BTW, replicates research from 25 years earlier that found the same thing. Jim Trelease has made it his life's work to bring reading aloud to the forefront of literacy development. There are many others who are carrying this torch forward. Some of them have blogged about this article already. See Monica Edinger's post (http://medinger.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/in-the-classroom-reading-aloud-2/) or this one (http://thereadingzone.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/an-author-scolding-teachers-for-reading-books-aloud/).
Reading aloud brings books to life for readers, especially those who might not be able to or care to read a book independently. It is not about teachable moments (though those do occur in reading aloud as I well know from a reading of A DAY NO PIGS WOULD DIE) or worksheets. It is about that all too important AESTHETIC response: the sheer JOY and PLEASURE of reading. I spent about 4 hours in the car yesterday driving into Houston and home from doing a workshop for librarians. I listened to an audiobook the entire time. That is how I access reading aloud these days. How I love hearing a book brought to life! Please, Mr. Peck, let us read aloud. Let us bring the love of reading to our kids. A SEASON OF GIFTS is one of those books that cry to be read aloud.
EDITED TO ADD: Roger Sutton has already commented on his blog that he thinks this is a tempest in a Twitter-pot and that he is sure Peck meant classrooms where there is only read aloud and not other acitivites as well. Two points:
1. I doubt this is true. Was this an "excerpt" from longer remarks and we are reading it out of context? Find that hard to believe since Roger Sutton is a fantastic editor.
2. So what is kids are never doing anything other than hearing books read aloud? Seems to me it works fine when they are toddlers. Do we make up vocab sheets for preschoolers? And even more to the point: are there really classrooms where teachers are enlightened enough to read aloud but not smart enough to do more with books and reading? Really?
Irritated I am.