05/09/2021 / Education

A Realistic Read Aloud

It was late one afternoon as I was working in my classroom. My students had been gone well  over an hour, when a former student appeared at my classroom door. It was a girl I had in class the previous year who wanted to stop by and see me. We talked about her transition into the middle school and the new friends she had made. More importantly, she told me about the friends that were sticking together as they made their way in the new school setting. What struck me most was when she told me how the book I had read to  the class, Because of Mr. Terupt, had helped her make the transition. As we shared our memories of the story, I was in awe of how the characters created by Rob Buyea truly brought forth the issues that many kids in the pre-teen years face. This is why I truly believe read aloud is an essential part of the day for kids of all age groups. 
I wrote a review of Because of Mr. Terupt a few months ago. This is the debut novel of Rob Buyea who was an elementary teacher and then a high school biology teacher. The characters that Mr. Buyea brings to life in his debut novel were very relatable. Kids connected with the seven main characters who narrate the story from their perspective in alternating chapters. Jessica is a new girl who is smart and easily picks up on what happens around her, She has a hard time finding her place at Snow HIll School. Luke is a smart boy who is always trying to dig a bit deeper, investigate when a probem arises. Danielle is a sweet, but insecure girl and has trouble standing up for herself. Peter is the class prankster and generally winds up in trouble. Anna has a family history that makes her an outcast to some. Jeffrey is a boy who hates school, and Alexia, "Lexie", is a bully and tries to act and dress much older than her years- which only leads to trouble. Placing this unlikely bunch in a 5th grade class together with a teacher like Mr. Terupt and everyone's lives are forever changed. Mr. Terupt teaches them much more than the core subjects. He teaches them to care for one another and stick together- not easy lessons for a group of preteen kids.

I have read Because of Mr. Terupt for several years now, as well as each of the books that soon followed in the series,  Mr. Terupt Falls Again and Saving Mr. Terupt. The fourth and final book in this series, Goodbye Mr. Terupt, will be added to my collection this year. I think it is important to point out that while the characters are very relatable and the students genuinely make connections, maturation topics are woven into the story. For example, topics such as menstruation and bras are part of the storyline for a few characters. However, it is important to mention that the maturation presentations generally happen in 5th grade in many schools, so again the author brings up topics that are within the realm of students understanding. 

The fun in sharing a series such as Mr. Terupt is the ability to follow the characters along their journeys and watch them grow. The books are well written and when used as a read aloud, the class discussions are amazing. Finding a series that kids can connect with   so well, either seeing themselves in a character, or having empathy for a character's situation is a true find. 

I would recommend sharing this series with students in grades 5 and above. 

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Kathleen Palmieri

Kathleen Palmieri is a National Board Certified Teacher, a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Learning Facilitator, and a fifth grade educator in upstate New York. She reviews professional texts and writes education articles for Middleweb. As a writer with a passion for pedagogy, Kathleen's focus is on education practices and strategies, as well as her own experiences as an educator. She has presented at math conferences, writing workshops, actively collaborates in literacy projects, and networks globally. 
KathleenPalmieri.com