The Power of Read-Alouds Has Sparked a New Love of Literacy for Orchard Third Graders

Students in Heather Girton's third grade classroom look forward to the end of each day, and it’s not because they get to go home. Instead, they’re getting cozy and waiting for Mrs. Girton to start her daily read-aloud. “These kids rush through cleanup to be sure we have the maximum time for reading,” Mrs. Girton said. “There’s no better sound to me than their loud, ‘Noooo!’ when I tell them we have to stop—we love cliffhangers!”

You might be thinking, “Aren’t read-alouds for younger students?” Well, recent research supports the benefits of reading to older children. Mrs. Girton has noticed that her students have started mimicking expression and inflection with their own reading. She’s also seen a spike in both social/emotional and academic skills, specifically in vocabulary and the creation of more sophisticated texts based on the books they listen to in class.

Mrs. Girton is building a relationship with her classroom based on a common joy of reading. “As an adult models reading skills, the foundation for building a reading life that is personally rewarding can be tangibly felt by the students,” she said.

Soon after Mrs. Girton’s students started reading The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix, the whole class was hooked. It's no small feat to make it through a 405-page novel and be totally engaged, but as Mrs. Girton always says, “These students know how to do hard things!”

The New York Time Best Selling novel made such an impact on the students, some of them wanted to let the author know. This was the perfect opportunity for a writing assignment.  

Mackey’s letter to Margaret Peterson Haddix:

Dear Margaret Peterson Haddix,

I’m Mackey from The Orchard School, in Mrs.Girton’s 3rd Grade class. We love, I mean love, your book The Strangers. We are so excited for Book 2, The Deceivers, to come out next year. We love your books because you're a glorious writer. Please keep up the exhilarating work!

Your #1 fan, Mackey  

More research supporting read-alouds!

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