Reading Aloud Tony

At times it feels like everything I do on my classroom is wrong: some of the kids struggle with new material, someone is mean to a classmate, the room is trashed, I lose something (this one happens every single freakin’ day).

Teaching is really hard.

It is messy.

It is all-consuming.

I love teaching, and I know that my insecurities as a teacher, probably float around in the minds of just about every person that has ever lead a classroom. We want our kids to be successful. We want them to learn. We want their lives to be better than they could ever imagine.

If I am willing to look hard enough, I am sure that their are magical things happening somewhere in my classroom each and every day. I know that I must do a better job of celebrating those moments. I can learn from the bad ones, but I can’t let them define me.

Yesterday, something magical happened.

The day was almost over. Papers were filed in cubbies, books in the library were straightened, and the chairs were stacked in uneven towers. I called the students to the carpet to end our day, the same way we end it every day, with a picture book read aloud.


I pulled out Tony. A 2017 book illustrated by Erin Stead. A student instantly noticed that it was illustrated by the same person that had illustrated The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles. That made me smile. Another student noted that Erin lives in Michigan. The kid sitting next him reminded the class that Erin is married to Philip, and that they sometimes make books together.

I told the kids a little bit about how Erin came to illustrate the book. They hung on my every word. In my head I thought about how when the year started they didn’t really seem all that interested in the stories I told them, about the stories I was reading them. We undressed the book by taking off the jacket. A collective gasp filled the room when they saw the case.

The book contains this cool transparent page before the title page. One of my students shouted, “That looks like wax paper. Mr. Sharp, is that wax paper?” By now my heart was so full of joy. My students have evolved from kids that read, to readers.

I read them Tony. They were captivated. In the middle of the book, their is a two page wordless spread. When I turned to that page, they all sat in awe. I stayed on that page for a solid 10 seconds before I turned to the next page and continued the story. Looking back, I wonder just how long they would have sat staring at that page.


When the story was finished, one of my students commented about how much he thought Ms. Culver would enjoy Tony. Ms. Culver visits our classroom each Friday, and reads the kids a stack of picture books.

The day ended. I walked the kids out.

When I returned to the room, I searched for that thing that I lost (my water bottle). I found it. Then I looked over student work to see who needs more support with the Distributive Property, and I tried to clean up some of the mess. The days I spent in a classroom are never going to be perfect, and their will always be more work to be done. My hope is that I can do a better job of slowing down, capturing the magic, and soaking up each and every moment I have with my amazing students.

Good things are happening.


7 thoughts on “Reading Aloud Tony

  1. The last spread made me think of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “The Lamplighter,” from a Child’s Garden of Verses. It has that same special connection between a child and someone who’s on the periphery, but an important part of his day.


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