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The Power of a Read Aloud

Twenty-two days.

That’s how long it’s been since I’ve last posted.

Clearly, this is getting ridiculous.

Forget the excuses.  I will just say that when I get home, I like to unplug from the world…except for Mondays, when I lesson plan, and during the evenings, when I’m watching various television shows.

So, let’s just get to today’s post, shall we?

Today was a good day at school…for a number of reasons.

The main reason had to do with the read aloud I did during my 4th/5th period block.

After I finished reading The Honest Truth to my classes earlier this year, I allowed my students to select the book they wanted next.  Each class chose something different.

My 4th/5th period class chose Bitter End, by Jennifer Brown.

You guys know that I am one of this author’s biggest fans.  She writes teen fiction that is extremely relevant.  It’s as if she hasn’t gotten so old that she doesn’t remember what a teenager actually thinks.

I read Bitter End a couple of summers ago, and I had to put it down at one point because the material was so realistic…so heartbreaking.

The book tells the story about Alex, a high school senior, who falls for Cole, the new boy in school.  He dotes on her until things change, and he begins to abuse her.

My class and I are about halfway through the book (remember that I’ve read it all the way through already…on my own…so I know what’s coming).

Today, I think we were on about Chapter 16 or so, and man, was the scene HEAVY.  I’d read ahead just to make sure I prepared myself for any possible discussion questions that might come up.  I tend to teach more organically when it comes to my read alouds and allow conversations and comments to flow naturally.

In this chapter, Cole really begins to abuse her for the first real time in the story.

My kids were sitting on the edge of their seats, let me tell you.  One girl had started to read the book earlier in the year but had put it down.  A few days ago, she told me how much more she enjoys it now that I’m reading it aloud because of the expression I put into it.

Quite a few times, as I read, they exploded with comments, and I had to stop to quiet them down.

When we finished the chapter, everyone had something to say, and we had a lively discussion.

I was in awe of my students.  Most of this class is comprised of young ladies…strong young ladies who are completely aghast at the doormat that Alex, the protagonist, is allowing herself to be.

Even my male students were indignant!

Yet, among the loud voices in my classroom came softer ones…the gals who suggested that we don’t know what we would really do if we were placed in similar situations.

One girl shared how a former boyfriend had pushed her down and spit on her (she wound up punching him…she’s a fighter, you see).

Then, I heard a gentle question:  “Mrs. Auburnchick, what would you have done?”

Oh boy.

While I try to get my kids to answer their own questions and think for themselves, I knew I had to answer this.

I told her that my broken, insecure, high school self probably would have taken the abuse.  My older, wiser, mama/teacher self would fight back.  It’s amazing what a few years of life experience will do for you.

My job as an intensive reading teacher is to help my students hone their reading skills.  Part of my job involves getting students to read…to explore their feelings about their reading…to connect their reading to their lives, other text, and the world.

Books such as Jennifer Brown’s make my job so much easier.  While we may not be completing graphic organizers, the rich discussions we are having as we read do just as much good and fill in the gap that overworked, uninterested parents create because they don’t know how to have these conversations with their children.

Tenderness

I saw tenderness displayed this evening, and it touched my heart beyond measure. 

It all started when I decided to take advantage of the rare, February 1st, 75-degree weather we were having. When I got home from work, I changed into running clothes and headed out. 

My goal was to hit four miles on my Charity Miles app and my Garmin watch, so I ran past my house as my circuit ended with the intention of running to the end of my street and back one more time. 

It was dark by that time, but my neighborhood is small. I know the path well, lined with sidewalks and a few street lamps. 

Just as I approached the house on the corner, something unexpected happened. 

Well, not unexpected as I tend to do things like this. 

I tripped on the uneven pavement. 

I went down on my knees, falling forward onto my left hand. My right thumb somehow turned under as I landed. 

First, there was shock. Next, I did a quick body check. My knees were already sore, but my workout pants had saved the skin from getting torn up. 

My left hand had scrapes. I couldn’t see well enough to gauge how bad they were.

Then, I looked at my right thumb. As soon as I moved it, blood started pouring from it. 

It was bad. I didn’t know a finger could bleed so much. 

I might have said a wordy dird…loudly enough for my sweet, Baptist neighbor, in her garage, to turn and look at me. 

Oops. 

The blood continued to flow, and large drops were running between my fingers and falling on the ground.

I decided that miles be da@%#d…I was going home. 

And I did, hobbling…determined not to cry. 

Because there was so much blood, I grabbed something from my recycle box in the garage and put it under my hand to prevent a bigger mess when I went inside. 

That’s when I lost my cool and started crying.

Rooster was in the kitchen. He saw my hand and immediately took control of the situation. 

After calling for the Mr. to get his first aid kit, Rooster handed me paper towels and instructed me to put pressure on my thumb firmly to make it clot. 

He wouldn’t let me let go, even when I wanted to take a picture for my blog. 

Yes, I was crying but still thinking of the blog. 

Priorities. 

Meanwhile, the Mr. started trying to clean up the mess. Blood was everywhere…in the sink…on the counter…running down my leg from where it had dripped. 

Rooster cut gauze to fit my finger and, when things were ready, carefully wrapped and taped it. 

The training he’d undergone when he was a lifeguard had kicked into full throttle. 

  
I sat down to catch my breath and decide what to do next. I was sweaty from my run, but my body was sore from the fall. I needed a shower, so the Mr. taped, at the suggestion of my friend, Megan, a baggy around my finger. 

  

My finger still got wet, but at least the shower water didn’t hit it directly. 

I got a glass of wine and watched the Iowa primary results, trying to air out my thumb. I wound up applying a bandage. The wound, which we now think is a puncture from, perhaps, landing on a small rock, was still oozing. Yeah. Gross. I wound up putting a band aide on to keep it covered.  

  

I needed to change the bandage before heading to bed, and without asking, Rooster stepped into the kitchen and took over, adding  a dab of the prescription antibiotic ointment he’d used after he had a cyst removed after Thanksgiving. 

He was gentle and apologetic when I experienced a bit of pain. 

Such a sweet boy. 

I can’t help but be moved by the tenderness shown to me tonight. 

As a mom and teacher, I’m used to taking care of others. 

To have my 21-year old son take the lead and love on me when I needed it most fills my eyes with tears and my heart with gratitude. 

I am so blessed. God has created a fine young man in this son of mine. 

By the way, I did get my miles…not bad for the evening of discomfort that followed. 

   
 

I am Huffletuff…ever the overachiever….with an incredible son to prove it. ❤️

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