By Andres Reyna
This post was written by a student in READ 6310 Children’s and Adolescent Literature.
Is it possible to read chapter books to kindergartners? How can kinder teachers read chapter books to their children, if we know that kindergarten children can only sit down for 15 to 20 minutes the most? Well, my first year of teaching kindergarten at a precise early childhood center, I discovered how authentic children’s literature made my read alouds and shared reading more engaging and productive in my classroom. I tried my best to engage the children in different types of texts and a verity of book genres. As much as you prepare a read aloud or share reading, sometimes it doesn’t turns out the way you expect it to be. This encouraged me to read literature that was relevant and interesting to my kindergartners.
One morning I tried something new in my classroom during my read aloud. I begin to read Charlotte’s Web by E.B White to my kindergarteners without even thinking what an impact it was going cause in their lives. I still remember when I introduced it and begin to read the first few lines in the first chapter. “Can you show us the pictures?” was the first question I heard coming from a student sitting in the back row. I had to stop and explain why there were no pictures in this book. At that time, I was wondering if they would be interested in listening to the rest of the book. I asked the children to visualize pictures in their mind as I read. After I role modeled, the children begin to make pictures in their minds and asking all types of questions. I was amazed on how fast they got hooked on the book. As the days went by, the children asked for more Charlotte’s Web. Towards the end of the chapter book, I was reading a whole chapter to the children instead of a paragraph or two. As we got to the last chapter of the book, the children came up with an idea. They decided to invite the principal to come and read the last chapter to the whole class.
My first year of teaching kindergarten made me realize how authentic literature can inspire children’s love for reading. With this chapter book I taught many strategies to my kindergartners, even though chapter books are written for older students. Who ever thought I was going to be teaching elements of story structure in a very unique and enjoyable way with Charlottes’ Web. Children learned to use strategies such, visualizing pictures in their minds and thinking aloud. It was astonishing how the children’s vocabulary increased as I read more and more of Charlotte’s Web. Through this experience I learned that authentic literature can make a difference on how children view their perspective of reading. Furthermore, I learned that it is very important to bring a varity of texts and genres into kindergarten classrooms that interest them.