A few weeks ago I finished reading my class Janet Tashjian’s Einstein The Class Hamster. The book we read before Einstein was The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. Both Janet and Tom visited our school, so our read aloud was part read aloud and part author visit prep. I had the darndest time figuring out what book could possible follow back to back author visit prep read alouds. It was not an easy task. After much debating, I decided to pick a handful of books and then let my students decide. After hearing me book talk our stack, they overwhelmingly chose The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies.
I read The Lemonade War and it’s sequel The Lemonade Crime a couple of years ago, and I really enjoyed both of them. My gut told me that this would be a fun read aloud, but I never expected my students to fall head over heels in love with the book. They fell. Hard. My students almost always try to talk me into reading “one more chapter”, but this time it was different. Their pleas felt urgent, like if I didn’t read them one more chapter I would be doing them a disservice and they might die because of it. I would hate for the cause of death of one of my students to be that I refused to read them “one more chapter”, so I almost always gave in and gave them what they wanted. After all, isn’t this what we want our students to experience as readers? Don’t we want them to see that sometimes reading consumes your life and other things (video games, chores, food, the internet) take a back seat?
Our read aloud of The Lemonade War could have been successful for many reasons: the intense sibling rivalry, the way Ms. Davies totally rocked third person omniscient storytelling, or the desire to find out who would win the lemonade war. I think the real reason my students fell so hard for The Lemonade War was because they were ready to see what reading can be. For many of them reading is something they do in school. Something their teacher asks them to do, and maybe something their parents harp on them to do at home. During our read aloud, reading was something magical. It wasn’t about school or reading level. When we give students opportunities to see the power of a great book, they can’t help but inch a little bit closer to becoming card caring members of The Nerdy Book Club.
I can’t wait to start our next read aloud later today. Hold on tight third graders, your world is about to be rocked by Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie.