Like most primary schools, our literacy storeroom is full of “big books”. Teachers choose big books relevant for their class, taking into account the genre, level of difficulty, contents, features etc of the text. Big books are typically used at the beginning of reading lessons, to tune students in and there is usually a particular learning focus which the teacher reinforces.
For the first few years of my teaching career, I was a regular visitor to the “big book” racks, and would spend a lot of time choosing the books that suited my needs for particular reading sessions.
This all changed a couple of years ago when I first got my interactive whiteboard. After exploring the stories, activities and websites available online, I realised that the limited choice of the school big book collection was no longer an obstacle in providing my students with a rich and diverse literacy program.
This also aligns with the wide-spread belief that students should be transliterate learners. As teachers we should be exposing our students to the wide variety of texts, media and literary platforms that exist today. Wikipedia defines transliteracy as:
“The ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.”
Of course there is still definitely a place for big books in the classroom, particularly in the early years of school, as they are an excellent way to teach reading and writing conventions. But it is fantastic that we can now teach our students through the huge array of online options, and this surely makes the classroom a more engaging, energetic and interesting environment for our students.
This week, Kathleen Morris and I presented a professional development session for our staff, where we highlighted just a few ideas for some big book alternatives. We reinforced that there are so many ideas online, and this presentation is just a snapshot of the options available to teachers.