Middle grade novels are my absolute favorite books to read!! They typically cover a wide range of topics, and also aren’t extremely long; I’ve found that with everything else I need to balance in life, these tend to be the perfect length for me.
With the beginning of the school year about two weeks away, I’ve been thinking a lot about which of my favorites would be great as a read aloud. I’ve rounded up 16 of my ABSOLUTE favorites; some are better for the younger ages (A Boy Called Bat), and some would be more appropriate for the older ages (The Bridge Home). However, the majority of these would be absolutely perfect for 3rd-6th grade, and some could probably even work for 7th and 8th grade.
My district is definitely in the minority in terms of how we’re going to back to school; we offered parents either full time in person, or full time remote. Most of the other districts in the area have chosen just a full time remote option. So….I’ve been brainstorming different ways that we can still engage our students in authentic read alouds…even while being remote.
Encouraging Remote Read Alouds
- One way to encourage a strong reading culture would be a “One Book, One School” initiative. You could decide on a strong book and purchase a copy for each classroom teacher. Each teacher would read the same chapter or section every week, allowing every student to be hearing the book at the same time. The teacher could either provide the reading live on Zoom or Google Meet, or could share a pre-recorded video through YouTube. If you are unable to purchase a book for each teacher, pick the principal or assistant principal (a familiar face for ALL students) to create all the recordings to share out. Each week after the story, I envision a scheduled, open Google Meet time where students of different classes and grades could come together to discuss the book and ask questions with each other. These would be facilitated by teacher volunteers.
- If the “One Book, One School” wouldn’t be successful in your building (maybe the grade ranges are too large), you could do a common book for each grade level instead. Maybe the 1st graders are reading one picture book, but the 5th graders are reading a different book. You would still be able to have the Google Meet and open discussions, it would just be with students in the same grade rather than the whole school.
- For the older grades, a novel as a read aloud would work, too. Each teacher could volunteer to read one chapter for a common novel, so the responsibility doesn’t fall on one person’s shoulder. Students could then listen to a chapter or two each day, and write a reaction or response to it to share with the class next time.