Reading to every classroom every month is by far one of my favorite things I do as principal. It is a fantastic opportunity to build personal relationships, set the tone for expectations, and prioritize literacy as a leader. Reading tons of books to students is one of the most important things we can do to provide equity and experiences. The poverty achievement gap begins with students who are not read to at home before they attend school in kindergarten. We must close this gap by reading as many books as possible to them which will increase vocabulary and provide experiences through literature that they may not have had otherwise.
I read to individual classes mostly but other times I read to the grade level as a whole and try to get to every class and grade every month. I connected the books to specific issues I want the students to grow in or reflect on. I also try to add an activity with the book for follow up. Sometimes I dressed up or had the students act out the book to make it more interactive. My list of books read is growing all the time. Before you totally adopt my list or any other’s list, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to read the perfect book. Find books that are award-winning or known books that are quality. Find books that interest you. Find books that tell a story or give a specific message that you would like to teach the students. Good luck and share your list with all of us!
Brad Gustafson inspired me to begin using short videos as commercials for the books I read to my students. He has a great video tutorial about bring the HEAT for your book talks. As I created more videos, I found this to be really fun and engaging for myself and my entire school. I think of these as opportunities to tell a short story or share something really unique from the book and having our kids and staff involved makes it that more special. Click here for pictures and the Twitter feed of my principal read alouds. All of the videos are on my YouTube channel and linked in the spreadsheets below.
Principal Read Aloud Spreadsheets
I created a spreadsheet to summarize and plan out my books for the school year. Click on them below to see a PDF of the full version with links to each of the #30SecondBookTalk videos we created.