When I say, "A book can take you places you'd never dreamed of visiting," I think most of my students imagine something like this picture I just found on Dollar Photo Club. I was there looking for something to help me write about the Secret Garden, and it made me think of my 6th graders this past couple of weeks.
They are reading The Secret Garden for school, and just could not get into it. Reading that Yorkshire in their minds was confusing, and they couldn't make sense of it. I had my mom (fantastic dramatic reader) read a couple of chapters to them, and I gave it shot. Let's just say, you DO NOT want me to read in Yorkshire dialect to any of your students! It was like a train wreck for sure!
My 2 youngest needed to finish this book over break, and I desperately wanted them to appreciate the story. So I set out on a mission and searched for dramatic readings. I remembered the days in middle school that we would do a readers theater, and how engaged every classmate was. I wanted to see that same excitement on my kids' faces. And I wanted to talk about the story, knowing they were really grasping the things that were happening. Peanut even decided to add it to her reviews!
I found this site Librivox.org There are public domain readings, and dramatic readings of so many pieces of literature. The second half of the book, they followed along while the characters told the story. They would laugh or sigh, and then pause the recording to discuss what was happening, on their own. The experience even caused my 11 year old son to watch the movie on his own Friday evening! I have full confidence that these dramatic readings helped them enjoy their book, and they felt what I always tell them, taken away to Misselthwaite. Here's a link to several versions of The Secret Garden if you'd like to use them with your class!
I know several teacher/authors who have created some fantastic reader's theater packages for the middle grades, if you have one to share, please feel free to post a link in the comments below!