As an avid reader and listener, World Read Aloud Day is a day I enjoy celebrating.
Who wants to hear Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, Cinderella by Charles Perrault, Charlotte’s Web by EB White or Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder? These children’s books bring a smile to my face every time someone mentions them, but it isn’t because they are literature classics. It’s because at some time in my life, either by my parents or teachers, those particular books and many others were read aloud to me.
Reading aloud and being read to with expression and inflection is such a joy, such a wonderful way to share book with someone. It can be a book with pages you turn, a book inside an electronic device or an audio book; the joy of being in the story and feeling the emotions and experience of the characters is so special.
Did you laugh at Sam I Am? Did you wish you could wear a beautiful gown and dance with the prince? Did you cry when Charlotte died? Did you imagine how it felt to ride in a dusty, bumpy covered wagon on an adventure across the prairie? If you did, then you heard a great story.
Oasis tutors provide an opportunity for students to enjoy being read to every week by someone who likes reading classic literature, jokes, graphic novels, character-building stories and informational text. I surveyed a few Oasis tutors with questions about what they like to read aloud and what their students enjoy hearing.
Karen Priest has tutored many first graders over the last seven years, but also some second graders and kindergarteners. She says that the Super Sue book series, by Cressida Cowell; Phyllis Root’s The House That Jill Built, Margaret Wang’s Monkey Tumbles and See You Later Alligator, by Sally Hopgood are favorites.
“They invariably respond very positively to the books I introduce them to, and often want to read them with me again and again,” says Karen, who shares a new favorite: On The Spot, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Lea Redmond.
“The real appeal of this book is that all of the possible answers are outrageously silly. It’s so popular, that I’ve actually bought copies for a few of my students. They love using the included stickers, but also love the small objects suggested by the authors. I put together a bag of such objects for each child to go along with the book.”
Connie Sullivan has served as a tutor at Coverdell Elementary, in St. Charles, MO, for 14 years.
“My new favorite book is Tops and Bottoms, by Janet Stevens,” says Connie. “It is a funny story about how a rabbit family tricks a lazy bear out of his land. Hare comes away with lots of food to eat and Bear has little food. This book provides a good amount for discussion and it is fun. We also plant some beans or some other vegetable after reading it.”
Dr. Seuss classics Green Eggs and Ham and Fox in Socks are read-aloud favorites for tutor Mike Comens, who has tutored for four years.
“The rhyming is fun and it helps students catch the melody of the book,” he says.
Geraldine Johnson has been an Oasis tutor for eight years, working with fourth and fifth graders. She came to tutoring with some favorites, including One by Kathryn Otoshi and Mr. Putney’s Quacking Dog by Jon Agee.
“Students let their imaginations soar while discussing Mr. Putney’s Quacking Dog, and they discuss bullying and possible solutions when reading One,” says Geraldine. “They explain why they like the books and they know I will not judge them for their responses. They have even been known to rewrite the endings of some books.”
As a tutor, Geraldine has developed new favorites, including TIME For Kids Almanac, Ron Roy and John Steven Gurney’s A to Z Mysteries, Big Book of Why and Big Book of Why Sports, to name a few.
Reading aloud, reading often
Research indicates that the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children.
It’s no surprise that reading aloud is at the heart of the success of Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring, which is the largest older adults tutoring program in the U.S., reaching more than 444,000 children since 1989.
“The emphasis on reading aloud to children is the foundation of every tutoring session,” says National Tutoring Manager Jeanne Foster, who recommends a 2010 article A Magical Childhood and The Importance of Reading Aloud to Students of All Grades and Levels to tutors or anyone interested in knowing more the impact that reading aloud has on learners.
Children who cannot read by fourth grade are apt to struggle throughout their schools years and are more likely to drop out. The Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring program tackles this critical situation using a six-step approach to literacy designed by educators that emphasizes reading, talking and writing.
Oasis is one of six intergenerational programs selected to receive the prestigious 2017 Generations United Programs of Distinction.
To find out more about the program, visit oasisnet.org/tutoring.
Mary Click began work with Oasis in early 2007 as Executive Assistant to the President and National Board. Promoted to Administrative Support Manager in 2009, her multi-faceted role included ensured the smooth operation of the Oasis Institute and the network. In 2016 Mary was promoted to St. Louis Tutoring Manager focusing on the Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring program and approximately 2500 volunteers participating in St. Louis. Prior to her 11 years of service to Oasis, Mary held project support and administration roles with other non-profits and corporations. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from St. Louis Christian College.