It's that time of year again. I have had the first of many teacher dreams that I will have before the school year starts. My mind wheels have started to turn. I have started to panic over all the summer goals that are not completed yet.
In the last couple of weeks I have started to really think about how I want the year to go and what I can plan for in both reading and writing this year. One of the biggest and most important tasks I have in setting up our classroom community is to find the books that I believe will be fun to share with the new batch of students.
As I have been letting my mind wander over the possibilities, I have read some great articles and blog posts. Inspired by this article by Franki Sibberson and this blog post by Katherine Sokolowski, I have begun thinking deeply about my selections for read-aloud this year.
Add to this the fact that I read Teach Like a Pirate and Opening Minds in the last week, and the selection for read aloud becomes that much more important to me. You see, I used to be very passionate about creating a very tight classroom community and teaching empathy. I worked my butt off to make sure that my classroom would be that safe place for all students, and succeeded at this with my 4th and 5th graders. And then, I moved to middle school and the school culture and the teenage attitudes kicked my *** and I have been giving up a little bit of this purpose each year of teaching middle school. Reading these books made me really think again about what I believe to be the most important thing to do in the classroom and that is to teach kids how to see the world from other perspectives and develop empathy. I think it is crucial to meet my students emotional needs in the classroom and in order to do that, I need to make it a completely accepting place in which all students belong. My professional reading reminded me that this was once my most important goal and that it is worth fighting for. After a few years with middle school, I know I will have the skills to help them develop empathy and learn to be kind to each other. As a reader, I can think of no better way to help them learn to take other perspectives than to read amazing literature that will make them understand what it is like to be like the characters in the book.
There are some books that have become favorites in the years that I have been teaching middle school and others that I have recently read and think would make excellent read alouds. These books are all books I will consider reading aloud this year at some point, and that I hope will help students to think deeper about the world around them and learn empathy.
These are currently the books that I am considering for that all important first read aloud. One of the problems of reading so many books is that I come across so many amazing ones that I want to share with my whole class. I believe any of these books would help me to get my year started out on the right note and help build community.
What are your favorite read alouds for helping middle school students develop empathy? Is there a book I just have to read? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!