Friday, February 12, 2016

Velveteen Rabbit Read Aloud

Today I got to continue one of my favorite traditions at work. The Velveteen Rabbit Read Aloud. It started my first year at YMS when one of the fifth grade teachers came to the library, trying to organize something to accompany her reading assignment about love. I suggested The Velveteen Rabbit as a good example of what Love means and it developed into a read aloud.

I think read alouds go by the wayside after children learn how to read; we tend to assume that we only need to read TO them when they don't know how to read, and once they know how, they'll want to read on their own. But this assumption is underestimating the books we read and also ourselves as readers; we don't read books just because we want to know the story the words are forming, we read books because we want to connect with others. Books become popular because people read them and TALK about them.

Furthermore, read alouds allow kids to experience a text without alot of expectations or demands. I think most people enjoy a story more when they can sit back, and allow the words being spoken to wash over them, and let their imaginations paint the story in their minds rather than trying to remember passages or think about how they're going to analyze it in a future assignment.

I love doing read alouds with middle schoolers. I don't believe in talking down to kids, and with this age group I don't even need to pretend. The fifth grade teacher concluded the read aloud by discussing the concept of vulnerability, and how sometimes in order to love and be loved, you need to be willing to take a risk and accept that you might get hurt. I love that this age group is old enough to pay attention to the story, and old enough to understand the concept of vulnerability, but still young enough to enjoy a story about a toy that comes to life without an eye-rolling.

And of course I brought in a couple visual aides. My own trusty companion Mr. Raccoon.

It's funny to think of a 30-something woman still toting around a stuffed toy, but I like showing the kids how much of an impact this story has on me, and I also like showing them that being a grown up doesn't mean leaving everything you loved as a kid behind.

I also show them the first photo of Mr. Raccoon, and how new he looked.

Me, one week old

Like the Velveteen Rabbit, his fur is shabby and whiskers have been loved off. 
His tail has become unsewn and his nose is worn with kisses.

But it doesn't matter.

"Once you are Real, you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

my son, one day old

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