listening to books


I worked in another classroom this afternoon and when we came in from playing outside the children were strongly requesting that their teacher read some stories to them.  I thought to myself, “I’m glad to see that they are so excited about books!”  She told them to sit quietly while she got a few books to read.  The next thing I knew she was putting a CD in the CD player!.  It was a book on CD.  In fact, all three books she “read” were all on CD!  When she put the books away, I noticed almost all of their books are on CD!  I remember thinking, “How sad!”

Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against having audio books in the classroom.  They’re great for a listening center (which none of the classes where I work have).  But, as I listened to the books, I realized how many opportunities were missed to actually discuss the books or what was happening in them!  This is such a passive form of “reading” a book – the lazy way out!  And by the multitude of these kinds of books – I realized that these children probably rarely hear an adult actually read to them!

I don’t mind audio books as an occasional treat or in a listening center – after the book had already been read aloud by the teacher and discussed.  But to be the main form of “reading”?!  I don’t like this very much.  It doesn’t encourage the child’s involvement or any critical thinking.  I dunno, maybe it’s just me.  I love to read aloud to my class!  I love to model how excited I get about reading and I like to see how their expressions change as I change my voice and do hand motions!  And I like hearing about why they think events happen or why a character feels a certain way!  I feel that these children are missing out on the best part of the reading experience when all they do is sit back and passively listen to a story!  Oh well, not much I can do – if I get any of them next year – they’ll be able to see how a real story is told!  🙂

About deepbluetide

I am a pre-kindergarten teacher at a private christian school. I work mornings with 4 year olds (most of whom enter my class in July still being 3 - they're babies!) and then in the afternoon work "daycare" - which is basically my own class combined with 5 year old children. One things for sure - it's never dull! I had no idea growing up I would be teaching pre-k today! It took me totally off guard - but in the end I wouldn't change a thing! I have worked with children whose age range is 6 weeks through 12 years. In the end I have decided that my current age group is my favorite! And in case you were wondering - all names mentioned are changed to protect the identities of those involved. Enjoy!

6 responses »

  1. that’s so sad to hear. We use audio stories during rest time, but To use them instead of a person reading aloud! That is hard to believe. The interactive process of read alouds are the best part! How can you teach children to question, think crictically, or wonder about what is going to happen next when there is no time to discuss?

  2. I have about 6 books on cd for the exact reason you mentioned..a special treat or sometimes when we are eating lunch in our classroom, I’ll have a child hold the book while I fixed our plates. Nothing can take the place of reading to a child. It’s one of my favorite times!
    Have you ever heard of the “imagination book”. I took a training seminar and it came up. You take 4-5 pieces of white paper and staple them together like a book. Then use your imagination to tell a story. I explain to the children I am the author but they have to be the illustrator (something we’ve talked about during the year). I usually put the children’s names in the story and they love it and wait to see what part they play. After I’ve modeled this for a good month I let the children take turns being the “author”…they love it !

  3. Wow! I think this teacher must moonlight at one of my schools 🙂 It always amazes me when teachers think that playing an audio book is the same as a read aloud, they couldn’t be more wrong. Like the pp said, there are sooooo many missed opportunites for literacy development when you play an audio book. I also love the listening center, for the reasons you already mentioned, but that is totally different than what this teacher is doing. So sad…

  4. I love reading aloud! I couldn’t imagine using books on tape all the time. I do use them once in awhile, but rarely. I admit, when I first started teaching, and had a very wild class, I used them more than I should’ve. That was a very long time ago. A parent who observed my class actually questioned why I played an audio book instead of reading it myself. Good for her!

  5. Even when I do an audio book, I am constantly stopping the reading to ask questions or discuss. I like to read the book to them first, then do the audio so I can once again model using the cassette player or CD. But you need to read aloud so the children understand why we want them to learn letters and sounds! They need to see us read!

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