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! 🙂