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Reading Brings Us Closer: How to Implement a Community Read Aloud

It started with First Chapter Fridays. Like many teachers, I was looking for ways to continue connecting with my middle school ELA students during the COVID-19 crisis. We're out of school for at least five weeks, and in addition to some light content to start our online learning journey, I also wanted to share things with my students that would bring them comfort and a sense of community. That's how the Community Read Aloud and the hashtag #ReadingBringsUsCloser was born.

Bring your students and community together during social distancing with virtual First Chapter Friday read alouds.

Here's how it works:

Members of the local community are asked to share videos reading the first chapter of their favorite novels. Bus drivers, mail carriers, teachers, deli owners, stay at home parents, doctors, and you-name-it local professionals can participate.

Start by sending a call to action. I shared the following post in a community Facebook group. You can copy and paste this post to share with your own communities. Use the hashtag #readingbringsuscloser

The post:

An opportunity to connect: I'm a 7th grade teacher at (insert your school name), and I'd like to start a Community Read Aloud with my 7th graders online. To make it happen I need your help!

I'm looking for volunteers from the community to read the first chapter of their favorite book and record it on video. The recordings can be done on your phone and will need to be short (3-5 minutes) in order to send them to me by email. It's okay if you can't make it through a whole chapter in that time--just giving kids a sample of a good book is enough. Be sure to show the book and tell the title and author, then just read!

Anyone local can participate! This will be a really fun way to connect in a time when so many of us feel a sense of isolation. Let's show our kids how reading can bring us together!

I'll be sharing the videos with my students through our virtual classroom. If you make a video reading the first chapter of your favorite book, you can send it to me at (insert your email address) Thank you so much! If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments. #readingbringsuscloser

Once you start receiving videos, you can save them in your Drive and link them through Google Classroom or send them to students via email. There is no assignment attached--this is simply a way to connect, bring hope, and get students excited about reading.

Enjoy! If you implement a Community Read Aloud, please let us know how it goes in the comments, and feel free to ask any questions. Happy reading friends! Here for you!

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I LOVE this idea. I posted to my community page and sent out to my district also to get teacher responses and this was my principal's response: "We need to have permission from the author somewhere in writing about authorization to read aloud and post on the internet. Just FYI." Any thoughts on this? I didn't even think of this. Is this a true statement?

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