Friday, December 12, 2014

Lunch time read alouds

A reader commented asking about the details of how our lunch time read alouds go. Here is what I expect you all imagine they look like.

At noon, the children close up their school books, put things away, and come back to get lunch. We set out the leftovers and other lunch options and people quietly get what they want while helping little people get their food. I grab a quick bite while this is happening and get our book. Everyone sits quietly at the table eating while I read. If they need more food, they quietly help themselves (or a small person) so I can continue reading. When the chapter ends, they wish aloud that we could read more, but stand up and put away their lunch things, wipe the table, and head off to quiet time.

I wish I could say this is what life looks like. No, I really wish I could. But, in all honesty, the only things that are similar are the fact that people eat food and I read a story. Here is the more truthful version.

We finish whatever group project we were doing and I ask people to gather up their things and put them away. Often their idea of what put away looks like and what my idea is are two different things. I think they should gather their books and take them upstairs to their assigned bookshelves, they are under the impression that it means make a pile and leave it on the table. If I insist they move the books, then it means take the whole pile and move it to the next available flat surface.

When there is enough table showing to allow people to eat their lunch, we get out the food. Thus begins the daily bargaining of who eats what, who gets to eat the last serving of the popular dish, who can and cannot make a smoothie, and discussions of what actually constitutes a decent and sufficient lunch. Because I am refereeing this little scene, I often wait to eat my lunch until after I read.

Once everyone has some food before them, I commence reading. It often goes like this.

Read, read, read, read.

"No, please don't bang you cars together while I'm reading."

Read, read, read.

"Stop it with the cars."

Read, read.

Pause to glare at the boy still banging the cars.

Read, read, read, read, read, read.

"Yes, you may have another cracker. No you may not have a cookie yet."

Read, read, read, read.

"Please close the book while I'm reading."


The phone rings. I decide to let the answering machine answer it.


"No, it's OK, I'm going to let the machine answer it."

Read, read (a little louder to be heard over the noise.)

Pause to listen who is leaving the message, realize I really do have to answer it. Briefly deal with whoever is on the phone. Try to call everyone back. "Yes, you may color while I read. No I'm not printing out a page for you to color."

Read, read, read, read, read.

"Quick! Get some paper towels to wipe up the water! Ack! Move the books!!!"

Read, read, read, read.

"Yes, everyone can have a cookie now."

Read, read, read, read, and finish the chapter.

The children run off, leaving disaster in the wake. If I'm feeling up to it I call them back to help clean-up, but usually not until I've had a quiet moment to eat some lunch. I often wonder if anyone actually managed to follow the story during all of that, yet, more often than not, at some later point, what we read will be discussed. It's messy, but it works.


Lucy said...

Someday I will live on a planet where the floors are wavy and uneven and can no longer qualify as a "flat surface".

susan said...

I love that you expose your real life! We are all there with you.

Carla said...

Thank you for this clear view of what real life looks like. I must confess that I have honestly wondered if scene #1 was more accurate. I have only one child and already my lunch time looks much more like scene #2 than #1. I have felt the "mommy guilt" set it and reading this makes me realize that it's completely unfounded (at least in this case).

c smith said...

Ha! I read that first paragraph and then thought, "she sure did make that sound easy". I have 10 kids and I knew there was no way that reading aloud, (or choosing lunch for that matter) was going to be that easy.

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