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Riveting Read-Alouds for Middle School


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About the Author

Janet Allen is an international consultant recognized for her comprehensive work in reading education. After teaching reading and English for nearly twenty years in Maine, Janet relocated to the University of Central Florida where she taught reading, writing, and English education courses; directed the Central Florida Writing Project; and, assisted in the creation of the Orange County Literacy Project. She is now a full-time researcher, writer, and consultant in schools and districts involved in rethinking their approaches to literacy and learning.

Patrick Daley was a nationally known expert in adolescent literacy, as well as an advocate for the older struggling reader--and for the teachers who teach them. As Senior Vice President of Scholastic Education, Patrick led initiatives that support academic engagement and literacy for all students. He collaborated with numerous education thought leaders, including Alfred Tatum, Ruth Culham, Laura Robb, Irene Fountas, and Gay Su Pinnell. After earning a B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Vermont and an M. Ed. in Reading and Language from Boston University, Patrick served as an elementary and middle-school classroom teacher and as a district reading specialist. He wrote several books for early learners, young adults, and teachers. In 2011, he received the Books for Kids Lifelong Commitment to Literacy Award.


"I volunteer in the middle school where my daughter teaches 6th grade. I wanted to use this book for a group of students that I work with regularly. I enjoy reading to and with them and they seem to have stayed interested and fairly engaged all this school year. This book has been a real eye-opener for me. There are subjects that I would have assumed no 6th grader would be familiar with, such as human trafficking. I was wrong - in some cases. They appear to have absorbed bits and pieces of the worst the world has to offer and were interested in learning about subjects I never would have predicted. I am very careful to not encourage conversation that parents should have input on, but it is often difficult to keep my mouth shut regarding certain topics. Therefore, I'm thinking the more mature the student, the better. I should also add the suggested activities are imaginative and well thought out. My daughter has incorporated several ideas into her lessons.Overall, I recommend this book for the older of the suggested age range." --T.K. Paul

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"This book is filled with 35 stories to read aloud. Some of the stories are based upon history like Mount Vesuvius, which are great. But them others are fictional tales like "Licked" which is just awful. I'm just not keen on stories about really bad behavior and bad manners. So obviously you'll have to pick-and-choose the stories which work best for you. At the beginning of each story a synopsis is given as well as what to think about. . . talk about. .. and so on. Overall I like the book, though I'm not a fan of all the stories." --G. Hearn

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"These rare well written passages that are meant to engage students when read aloud. I hope to incorporate them into my classroom. A good resource for educators." --Melissa A. Palmer

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"My wife, who teaches 6th grade, put this product to a mini test, here is what she had to say: Reading aloud to students is important for many reasons, listening is an important skill and it can bring stories alive for students. In this book, the authors give a short summary for each story and provide language and vocabulary to help build student background knowledge. The authors also provide ample opportunity for students to think, talk, and write about each text. There is a variety of texts such as excerpts from novels, non-fiction and poetry. The stories are engaging and would be great to use once or twice a week in class." --Michael Demeritt

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"I love reading aloud to my children, but my older child is getting tired of the picture books she grew up with. She is ready for something more substantial, and she loves nonfiction. I'm so happy to have discovered this resource! The topics are a bit edgy (child trafficking, slavery, death), but that is exactly what keeps kids riveted at this age. And what better way to bring these topics to them than in a format that encourages discussion and adult involvement. I want to have these discussions with my kids before they have them with their friends and learn misinformation. I am looking forward to working through this book with my daughter. It will be a few more years before my son can handle this, but I'll be using it with him too." --G. Dawson

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"The selections in this book are meant for read-alouds with middle school students. Because of the subject matter of some of the stories, this book is really not intended for elementary students. Some of the selections are ones I loved reading, and others are just ok. As a teacher/parent it's important to know you audience at what will work for different students. I liked that this resource is available because it is full of some really good texts in it that will spark student conversation and discussion." --Tina Says

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"These really are great stories for read-alouds. I teach 4th grade. I thought these would be good to use at the end of the year in the last two weeks of school even though it says 5th grade and up. I might not be able to read them all. The topic matter is quite grown up. I haven't read every story just yet, but I have placed through them all and read a good many. They are kinda scary, the kind of scary that keeps kids wanting more. The story about human trafficking (for child labor, not sex trafficking) might be too frightening for my babies, but middle schoolers should be able to handle it. Other stories have murder and slavery topics. They definitely keep your attention and would sparks discussion and good writing." --Renee O Pruitt

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