I confess, I enjoy being read to. And so do my students, even though they're in their teens. How do I know this? Because our school recently launched an all-school read with the teachers reading out loud to the students. The result? An engaged student-body who look forward to the next session.
My principal embraced the idea of a read aloud even though he was a little wary of the book Flight by Sherman Alexie I had proposed. I described it as having a good deal of "language" that may offend some, but the message of this book, I knew, would resonate with our student body. After reading the book himself, my principal agreed.
The result of this orchestrated mass reading has been unbelievable. Spontaneous discussions break out in my room after the reading time dealing with connected issues in the world that really aren't even part of the book itself. There's been more engagement on the students' part and more excitement to read (or be read to) than I've seen for a while.
While to be sure the book has a lot to do with this engagement, I think the read aloud matters too. It's something the students return to in their discussion--how much different it is to be read to and how they "see" the story differently when they hear it and see it (every student follows along in his/her copy of the book) rather than just reading on their own.
When successes like this come along, there's nothing to do but celebrate them. And replicate that success in other ways. Engaging students with read alouds. Who knew? It makes all the difference.