WEEKLY READ ALOUDS

with Laurie Brooks.

Consistency is Key

WITS has always understood that consistency is key when it comes to empowering readers. For our younger readers, we’ll post a new video every week that features a picture book read aloud with Laurie Brooks. Each read aloud will have an accompanying activity. In her role as Curriculum Manager at WITS, Laurie is responsible for developing the content of all WITS programs to drive outcomes. She provides ongoing literacy, behavior management, and social emotional coaching and training for staff to activate with students and volunteers. Laurie previously taught students in grades PreK-3rd in Chicago Public Schools classrooms for seven years. Join Laurie every Wednesday at 2pm for a read aloud of a different book accompanied by a fun and engaging literacy activity.

Week one

Where the Wild Things Are

This week we will be reading Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. We will read about Max's adventure in his very own bedroom and engage in an activity all about emotions. This week's activity will help students practice using evidence from illustrations to determine information about characters. Using six different images of Max from throughout the story, students are to write how they think Max is feeling at different parts of his adventure, and explain how they know. This activity is appropriate for students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

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Week two

Something Beautiful

This week we will be reading Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth. In this book we will learn about a girl who begins to look at the world through new eyes, seeing the positive in others and finding beauty, even in her difficult circumstances. Our activity this week will teach us how to face challenging circumstances when we look for the beautiful things all around us.

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Week three

X-WHY-Z Animals: Kids Ask. We Answer

This week we will be reading X-WHY-Z Animals: Kids Ask. We Answer. When it comes to the facts, every child wants to know: Why? X-Why-Z Animals lets young readers discover the answers. These colorful pages will introduce children ages 4 to 6 to the world of animals, with beautiful images and simple text that is perfect for beginning readers or reading along.

After the read aloud, do an animal mini-project as a companion to the non-fiction book. This activity is designed give students practice researching independently, using some of the skills taught during the read aloud. Children are asked to choose an animal and make their own facts page.

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Week FOUR

THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES

BLAGGITY BLAGGITY. GLIBBITY GLOBBITY!
This weeks read aloud book, is the clever and irresistibly fun, The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. Using just words, this book will make every reader laugh, discover new words, and make Laurie look silly reading it.

After reading The Book With No Pictures, use the activity which asks students to explore and create their own fun words: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs; the sillier the better! Then students can get creative making their own silly sentences, in a unique font of their own making.

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April 22nd was Earth Day! The Earth Day movement continues to inspire people everywhere to take action towards saving our beautiful planet. The worst of our environmental challenges continue to be global warming, air and water pollution, deforestation, overpopulation, waste disposal and the depletion of our natural resources. If we want to create a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet, we must teach our children environmental awareness and green habits from an early age, so they can “be the change”.

This weeks read aloud book, A Cool Drink of Water, by Barbara Kerley has beautiful photographs depicting people all over the world collecting, chilling, and drinking water. During the activity readers will examine pictures carefully for details, then use what they see and already know to make a good guess about what is happening in a photograph.

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Mo Willems' books are hilarious character driven stories that kids love. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Knuffle Bunny, and the tales we are exploring this month; the Elephant and Piggie (E&P) books, are a remarkable series for beginning readers. There Is a Bird on Your Head! is the first E&P book ever to be released, and falls under the category of “easy readers”. Easy readers are books that are equal parts illustrations and large, easy-to-read text, and their vocabulary is normally limited to words that appeal to kindergarten to second-grade reading levels.

The Elephant and Piggie books boil down the easy reader to its essential components. The lead characters, Gerald the elephant and Piggie the pig, stand in front of a plain white backdrop, acting out their stories with just their body language and bare minimum of props. The earnest duo – like a more affectionate animal version of Laurel and Hardy – communicate through sound effects and large-text word balloons that make it easy for kids to pick out key words and follow the action. In addition the dialogue-driven E&P books are, actually, a lot like wonderful, condensed one-act plays for kids. This week you will find a fun activity to help readers think and practice their understanding of characters, AND have a fun E&P costume craftivity. Kids can dress up like their favorite Mo an E&P performance for the whole family!

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This week, Laurie (and Spike, her Bearded Dragon friend) read another fun informational text about reptiles, called What is a Reptile?  by Melvin and Gilda Berger. This easy reader is a great introduction to science and non-fiction reading skills, and will help students practice noticing and noting their questions and answers.

The activity for this week lets young readers practice using a K-W-L chart, an easy graphic organizer to use whenever students read informational text or conduct any research project. Just like a real scientist and researchers, students learn to chart what they Know (K), their Wonderings or questions (W), and finally what they learned from their reading (L). This tool will help students organize information before, during, and after a reading or project to engage students in a new topic, activate prior knowledge, share unit objectives, and monitor students' learning.

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Week eight

nothing to do

This week's book, Nothing to Do by Douglas Wood, is a beautifully illustrated poetic picture book that is very relevant for kids stuck inside their house bored with “nothing to do.” It's about the joy and beauty and specialness of play! Play being anything we do for just the pleasure of it. It illustrates the moments of play that can be found all around us if we can slow down and notice them.

This weeks activity is thus all about text to self connections. Text to self connections refer to connections made between the text and the reader’s personal experience. The reader may connect ideas or situations presented in the text with their thoughts, past travels, family members, or friends. Connecting the text to themselves will give readers insight into what a character might be feeling or how an idea came to light. Text to self connections enable readers to utilize first-hand knowledge for a more memorable and meaningful reading experience.

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Week nine

if you give a cat a cupcake

This week, Laurie reads the hilarious kid favorite, If you Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff, the author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and the "If You Give" book series. In this one, a kind young girl offers a cat a cupcake. But she didn't anticipate the effects of such a gift, and now before she knows it, the girl has taken him to the gym, a karate class, rock climbing, boat rowing, on a merry-go-round ride, the science museum, and finally back home. And of course, he's going to need a cupcake to go with them!

Kids love this text because of the silly plot and repetition. Teachers love how it teaches and reinforces early comprehension skills like sequencing and cause-effect.  Chock full of humor and repetition, this book is a great way to introduce, teach, or reinforce the skill of retelling and making predictions for students.

This week's activity will help students strengthen their story element retention while working on cause and effect. This pack includes a copy of one of Laurie's examples of cause and effect for students to reference along with an easy cause-effect practice sheet for students to practice writing/expressing causes and effects based on the given cause or effect. Also provided are picture cards with illustrations from the book to help students practice sequencing and retelling the story. These visual cards will also come in handy for the cause-effect cupcake matching game.

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Week ten

Animal ark: celebrating our wild world in poetry and pictures
A howling wolf, a stalking tiger, a playful panda, a dancing bird – pairing the beautiful photography of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore with the poetry of Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander, this rich picture book celebrates the beauty, diversity, and specialness of animals big and small. This informational text is appropriate for children ages 3- 9 and features 40 unique animal portraits. The stunning close-up photography and poetic prose invite kids to explore each creature's unique anatomy in amazing detail.
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Week eleven

missing mommy

The death of a parent is a subject most people instinctively shy away from. This week's read aloud, “Missing Mommy,” is one of the rare books that addresses grief and bereavement for young children. Accessible and tender, this story gives young children a voice and shows how to hold the memory of a loved one close.

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Week twelve

let the children march

In 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of African American children volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. They protested the laws that kept black people separate from white people. Facing fear, hate, and danger, these children used their voices to change the world. Frank Morrison's paintings bring this historical event to life, while Monica Clark-Robinson's moving and poetic words document this remarkable time. This powerful story was written by Monica Clark-Robinson and illustrated by Frank Morrison. Let the Children March reminds students that even they have the ability to make a change.

This week's activity allows students to practice making text to world connections, and create their own protest sign for a cause they believe in or problem they see in their community. It may seem like a simple poster design challenge, but it is much more than that.  It is a chance for students to understand that words matter, and they must use their voice to help change or fight an injustice they witness.

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Week thirteen

pokko and the drum

This week’s read-aloud is the funny and beautifully illustrated Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe. Kids and adults alike will delight in this story from the irresistible first line: The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her a drum.

While you’re listening to the story, think about what might happen next. Why do you think so?

If you like Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back, you’ll love Pokko and the Drum!

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Week fourteen

our brain book

Our Brain Book is an engaging, approachable book that helps children and adults understand how their brains work as we humans interact. Social-Emotional Learning concepts and human emotions are sometimes difficult to understand and apply. Our Brain Book helps take away some of this mystery with fun, anatomy-based science. Developed for students, teachers, principals, parents to help provide an approachable, the easy-to-understand connection between the physiological brain science to the emotional experience of human communication and connection. It helps the child (and any human) understand the science of their feelings and actions while explaining to the leader, teacher, or parent how to help with co-regulation. It creates a common understanding and framework to discuss our interactions and reactions, and how to make them more positive and productive.

This week children and caregivers will create their own "Calm Down Spot" and Coping Skills toolbox. The calm down spot promotes self-regulation and allows students to identify their emotions. Children can elect to go to the Cool Down Spot when they are feeling overly excited, frustrated or sad. Caregivers can also suggest children visit the Calm Down Spot when they need a break or need to think about their actions. The Cool Down Spot is not punishment or “time out,” rather, it is a way for students to practice calming techniques and think about their actions before rejoining the group. A coping skills toolbox is an actual physical container that houses items kids can use to help calm down and express their emotions in healthy ways. There are a ton of strategies your child can use to calm down, and having a toolbox is one way to keep several of these tools readily available to use.

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ENJOYING THIS RESOURCE? CONSIDER MAKING A DONATION.

With your support, we provide quality literacy enrichment and teacher professional development programs at zero cost to our city’s divested neighborhoods.
MAKE A DONATION

Weekly Read Alouds with Laurie are currently on hold. Check out our Early Childhood Summer Program for read alouds and activities appropriate for students this age.

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