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New Books To Read Aloud

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Not so long ago, teachers who read aloud to their classes often found themselves in the awkward position of having to justify the use of precious instructional time to their administrators. How times have changed. Just recently, I was heartened to overhear a student teacher reading aloud with great feeling to her new 4th grade students, who soaked up each word with obvious pleasure. Reading aloud is simultaneously soothing, exhilarating, and satisfying for both reader and listener. Give yourself and your students a gift: Try out a new book. Here are 17 of the best read-alouds published in the past year or so.

Kevin Henkes, who understands children's fears and quirks as they begin school, introduces us to another of his mouse/child characters in the gently engaging picture book, Owen (Greenwillow, $13.95; grades PreK-l). This young mouse thinks his blanket, Fuzzy, is just perfect. Next-door neighbor Mrs. Tweezers gives Owen's parents loads of advice on ways to wean him of it: the vinegar trick, the Blanket Fairy, and just saying no. But Owen prevails, carrying, wearing, dragging, sucking, hugging, and twisting the bed- raggled yellow rag. Just in time for school, his mother comes up with the perfect solution: She turns the blanket into handkerchiefs.

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