Finding Home and a Place to Belong in the Read Aloud

LitCamp is officially in session across New York city and Detroit. Here to offer you an inside view of our Harlem LitCamp is our summer intern, Rachael Smith. Rachael is a Junior at Dickinson College studying music composition. She takes every opportunity to make music and is a member of multiple choirs, her own band and an a capella group. She has also been doing improvisational comedy for 5 years, and performs with the Dickinson Improv troupe. And now, here's Rachael!

What an exciting and fun first week at LitCamp! We spent our time playing games, singing songs, making crafts and, of course, reading. I enjoyed all of these activities but my favorite was reading aloud. This is a central part of of both LitCamp and LitWorld, and we got to do a lot of it these past few days. 

I was introduced to the read aloud on my first day at LitWorld. After meeting new people, grasping new concepts, all in a new place, I felt a bit overwhelmed. Before we left the office, Yaya read The Gift of Nothing to the interns, and I suddenly felt at ease. Seeing someone take the time and care to read to us gave me a sense of welcome and importance. I was instantly hooked on read alouds.

Five weeks later on the first day of LitCamp, I got the chance to read with Abel, an experienced reader. We were making our way through a book about basketball, each reading an alternate page. Dan, a younger camper, came over and asked to join. We included him in our reading method, and when it was his turn to read a page, we quickly discovered that he was still in the learning process. We switched to repeat-after-me method and when Dan's turn came he echoed what I read. Dan loved this so much that he started repeating after both of us on every page. Instead of getting upset or correcting Dan, Abel welcomed his enthusiasm. He excitedly helped Dan with each word, even the sound effects written in the illustrations. After we finished, Dan, who earlier that day said he hated books, smiled and asked if we could read it again.

Abel's welcoming attitude and excitement to help Dan made the read aloud that morning a huge success. This attitude isn't unique to Abel, it's also engrained in the LitWorld culture. I experienced the same type of welcome listening to The Gift of Nothing on my first day. I've witnessed attitudes of care and excitement in all of the staff members at the office, and they clearly brought these attitudes to camp. The seasoned campers carry the same spirit, and as Abel showed on the first day, are excited to share it with the new faces.