Getting Emotional in Children’s Books

I love teaching 2nd grade. One of the best parts is the books. Children’s books are hilarious and engaging. There’s Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Mercy Watson, and The Pain and the Great One. There are also books that can be quite emotional. Lots of tears stream down my face when I read aloud Sarah Plain and Tall or There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom.

The best books though, are the ones where the emotion completely surprises me. When I get to the last page of a book and I’m fighting back tears. My noise will tickle and my voice will get hoarse. I try to play it cool so no one notices.

This happened last night at our Read Across America event honoring Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Students come back to school in their PJ’s to hear teachers read books aloud. Students rotate to 3 different classrooms and hear 3 different stories. Since I volunteered to read, I had to pick any story and read it 3 times in a row. I chose Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor. I love this book because it is so silly. The main character teaches her family how to be fancy. They dress up in costumes and use “fancy” words like “posh” or “parfait.”

It surprised me during my 2nd session when I choked up on the last page. The parents put Nancy to bed at the end of the story and they say, “I love you Nancy.” Nancy replies with “I love you, too” because there is not a fancier word for love. It is the one thing in the whole book that doesn’t need to be fancy.

Maybe this is more proof that the more times you read a book, you notice different things. Maybe I was moved by the kiddos in their PJs cuddled with their parents. Or maybe it’s this big truth about love hiding inside a silly story for children. Whatever the reason, it makes me love Fancy Nancy even more!

I wonder what the next book will be that will catch me by surprise.


6 thoughts on “Getting Emotional in Children’s Books

  1. I LOVE reading aloud with children. Being surprised by books we love- that’s great. Sometimes it is hard to help students see the value in reading something for the second…or hundredth time, but when something like this happens naturally, they can see for themselves.


  2. So many great books here! Mercy Watson is our favorite. And you’re so right that sometimes these books, even after so many readings, can really resonate. I love those little surprises.


  3. As a first grade teacher I had a few read-alouds that I knew would make me cry, and I knew exactly where. In “A Chair for My Mother” it was when the Grandmother thanked the neighbors for their help after the fire and said, “Its a good thing we’re young and can start over.” I love how this post is different- how this familiar book took you by surprise at that moment.


  4. Reading aloud to kids rocks! I dread the day when my six year old son doesn’t want me to read to him any more. In the meantime, I loved reading your slice and thinking about all those lovely books, and I am looking forward to another night cuddled up at bedtime with a warm child and a good book. (I think it is either Junie B. Jones or Ivy and Bean tonight!)


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