It's easy to find terrific read aloud picture books for toddlers and preschoolers. But when asked to read aloud to a group of elementary school students, you have to do a little more homework. You want something that doesn't insult their intelligence, but you don't want something that's more suited for silent reading. Recently, I've had the opportunity to read aloud to groups of older children. If you're looking for terrific read alouds, try these for your next read aloud occasion:
Before reading this story of Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between New York's World Trade Center Towers, I asked the children what they could tell me about the World Trade Center towers in New York. Some children didn't know what I was talking about, but many did know that they were attacked on September 11, 2001. I introduced the book and read The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. They were absolutely captivated by Petit's achievement and were amazed that it was a true story. Gerstein builds drama brilliantly, making this a fantastic read aloud for elementary school children.
On a lighter note, I also read Margot Zemach's It Could Always be Worse. Our community does not have a large Jewish population, so I did explain what a rabbi was before starting the story. A man begs his rabbi for advice: his small house is so noisy! What can he do? The rabbi advises him to bring in an array of animals, one by one. After each animal is added to the crowded home, the man tells his rabbi that his house is more crowded than ever! The rabbi advises him to add one more animal. When the man is on the nerve of a nervous breakdown, the rabbi advises him to move the animals out of his home. The man is relieved to find the house filled only with the sounds of his family. This is a funny story that doesn't hit your audience over their heads with its moral (appreciate what you have-it could always be worse!).