Read-Alouds Impact Grown-Ups Too


We often talk about the right book at the right time for our students, and it’s also true for adults.

A couple weeks ago I read “Ralph Tells a Story” by Abby Hanlon to several different groups of teachers as I opened my writing professional development. The story is about a young boy, Ralph, who doesn’t see himself as a writer. Sure, his best friend Daisy writes hundreds of stories, but he can’t think of one. So he does many things to avoid writing. At one particular share session he is asked to share his writing and something amazing happens. If you haven’t read it, I won’t spoil it for you. Get. The. Book.

A colleague, Jackie, asked if she could borrow the book after our class and I was happy to loan her my copy. The next day she wrote this to me, “I have a ‘Ralph’ in my classroom and I realized what at times may look like stubborness, or an unwillingness to even try, might actually be something far more vulnerable and utterly painful. Until that moment, I had not really seen his pain. So thank you for sharing Ralph’s story with us yesterday. I’m sure it made me see this writer more clearly.”

The next day she sent me an update of what happened after she read the book aloud.

“My ‘Ralph’ sat up front and I could hear him whisper aloud ‘That’s me!’ And I knew it was true. Everyone definitely felt a connection. I shared with them that even grown-ups (including me) have those ‘Ralph moments.'”

Putting books that matter and make a difference into teachers’ hands is one of the best parts of my job. I choose carefully and share purposefully. This link will take you to an ever-growing board I’m keeping on these types of texts.

What types of books do you love that impact adults?

4 thoughts on “Read-Alouds Impact Grown-Ups Too

  1. The read aloud in my adult life that made me realizing that I still enjoyed being read aloud to was having Penny Kittle read from her book The Greatest Catch. I have since read from the book to my undergraduate students, although I know that I don’t quite capture the magic as well as Penny reading it herself!

    I also love Marianthe’s Story: Painted Words and Spoken Stories by Aliki for language acquisition.

  2. During my time in Alaska, we used to listen to NPR in the office. Every day after lunch, the whole office would quiet as we listened to Dick Estelle, Radio Reader read from whatever current book he had going.
    Unfortunately, he’s not on any station in Washington. But I can connect into streaming stations, so that might work.

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