What do American Girl Dolls have to do with literature? Plenty because there are books written about each American Girl Doll and when I was a kid those were the books I wanted. Since I had Kit I naturally had all her books as well and had my mom read them to me before I fell asleep every night. When we were done with Kit’s books I moved onto the other doll’s books. The ones I could find at the library I would check out and then I would convince my parents to buy the rest. My favorite part of the night was when my mom would come in and read to me. Falling asleep to my mom’s comforting voice made sleeping easier. As I got older and learned to read I started reading to myself before falling asleep at night and soon my mom quit reading aloud to me before I fell asleep. My mom also used to read aloud books during long road trips to visit Grandma in Kansas. I barely remember her reading aloud the Lord of the Rings because all I can remember is Shelob the giant spider because I hate spiders, and Éowyn killing the Witch King. I do remember her reading aloud Redwall by Brian Jacques because I remember being pulled into the story. Usually on long road trips I would just fall asleep, write or read but this time I sat engaged for 8 hours listening to a story about talking animals. The Redwall books are great books for any age.
Other than those books from my childhood that my mom read to me, I have not had books read aloud to me in a very long time. When I was in middle school we read books aloud as a class but I have not had a book read aloud to me in a long time. The last book read aloud in a classroom setting was Junior year of high school. My English teacher read The First Death by Robert Cormier out loud to the class. It was a great read aloud and yes there were groans of dismay when Mrs. B closed the book and we started on something else.
The first time I encountered the concept of reading aloud to students was in my children’s literature course. My professor stressed the importance of reading aloud and how it helps students reading lives. Reading aloud is especially important for those students who struggle with reading or find reading a waste of time. It gives them the opportunity to listen to a book instead of having to read it. I personally love listening to audiobooks when I go on trips. There’s something soothing about listening to a book when you are driving through Nebraska (let’s face it, the state is incredibly boring).
I already have plans about what books I want to read aloud in my classroom and that may change but the idea of reading aloud won’t. It really might be the first time students have had exposure to books other than the assigned books that no one wants to read.