For about ten years now, I have taught Pre-K. One of my favorite parts of the job is reading stories to the children during circle time. I am far from a great entertainer, but I try my best to make the stories entertaining or engaging to the children in some way; however, making a story interesting for the children is sometimes difficult. One reason for this is because sometimes I don’t like the story I am reading.
The vast majority of stories I read are ones I enjoy, but sometimes the children are fans of a book or series of books that I just don’t like. Two examples of this are the Skippyjon Jones series by Judith Byron Schachner and Pinkalicious series by Victoria Kann. In both these cases, I don’t like these books while the children in my class love them. For the record, I do not want to besmirch these books or their authors. I can easily see the appeal of them to young children, but there is something about the writing that bothers me on a visceral level I can’t explain. To use an analogy from another art form, the band Maroon 5 led by singer Adam Levine is very popular and I have many friends who enjoy their music; nevertheless, when I hear Levine’s voice and his band’s music it is like nails on a chalkboard to my ears and I am at a loss as to cogently give you a reason why.
This leads to the question: what should teachers of young children do when their students enjoy a book that they themselves do not?
Personally, I have a few strategies to deal with this issue. If it is a book I only slightly don’t like, I will hold my nose and read it doing my best to make it as engaging as my favorite children’s books. If the book is one that for whatever reason I just don’t like at all, I often will read it anyway, but leave out any attempts at reading it with gusto because I am just not a good enough actor to pretend that I am into the book. Other times I might even have the child read it if they are able to, or retell the story from the pictures which is an activity we often have the children engage in with stories they either can decode or know by heart.
Thus, I ask readers of Lolly’s Classroom for advice. Do you only share books you enjoy? What would you do if students wanted to hear a story you were not a fan of? Do you allow children to bring in books from home for the teacher to read and share with the class? How do you choose which books to read to your students and which books to have available in your classroom?