Read-Aloud Rituals: Birthday Bag and More
Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook, says that read aloud is like doing a book commercial for kids and conditions them to associate reading with pleasure. Why is this important? Because human beings seek to have pleasurable experiences repeated. There is nothing more exciting to a child than their birthday, so let's associate birthdays with books!
That's what this read-aloud ritual is all about. I always kept a birthday gift bag filled with birthday-titled picture books inside.
When is was a child's birthday, we suspended our normal "choose a book" ritual with a birthday read-aloud. The birthday child was invited to select a book from the birthday bag for that day's morning meeting read-aloud.
(I found it easy to find birthday books at garage sales and library used-book sales.) After the read-aloud, the book went back into the bag and the bag was put away until another child's birthday. This became a favorite class ritual and helped us use books to celebrate with each other! Here are some of the titles in my Birthday Bag:
The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli
Happy Birthday to You by Dr. Seuss
The Secret Birthday Message by Eric Carle
Curious George and the Birthday Surprise by Margaret and H.A. Rey
Some Birthday! by Patricia Polacco
Happy Birthday to You! by Marianne Richmond
Happy Birthday, Moon! by Frank Asch
A Birthday for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban
Birthday Presents by Cynthia Rylant and Sucie Stevenson
Arthur’s Birthday by Marc Brown
Creepy-Crawly Birthday by James Howe
Moira’s Birthday by Robert Munsch
Birthday Bugs: A Pop-Up Party by David Carter
The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Clifford’s Birthday Party by Norman Bridwell
Happy Birthday, Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff
A Birthday Basket for Tia by Pat Mora and Cecily Lang
Five Little Monkeys Bake a Birthday Cake by Eileen Christelow
Happy Birthday, Barbie! by Mary Man-Kong
Chapter Book Birthday Read-Aloud
In her book Reconsidering Read-Aloud Mary Lee Hahn shares another birthday read-aloud ritual. On a child's birthday the child refers to the read-aloud gallery and is invited to select from one of the previously read books a favorite or memorable excerpt to revisit as a class. She says she underestimated how much her students enjoyed this read-aloud.
Birthday Mystery Reader
Another way to celebrate birthdays and tie it in with read-aloud is to invite a "mystery reader"--usually a family member or friend of the birthday child. The mystery element adds extra excitement!