In case you couldn’t tell from this list and this one, I love reading books to my kids. I’ve always been a book lover and I hoped to pass that on to my children. Yes, I was one of those women who read to her baby in the womb. I couldn’t help it. I just couldn’t wait to share so much wonderful literature with her!
From the time Lucy was born, I loved reading books with her, but I didn’t realize quite how important it was to her development until I read Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook. I’m not an educator, so I really had no idea what a seminal book this is—I merely picked it up at the bookstore one day when Lucy was a few months old and liked that it contained a list of books that make excellent stories to read aloud.
I loved the book and it’s really shaped how I feel about books in our family and even my approach to teaching the kids new things. Trelease submits that the best way for children to learn to read (the gateway to learning all other subjects) is to hear stories read aloud on a regular basis. Should children read silently on their own when they are able? Certainly. Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) should be a part of the mix, but you should continue to read aloud to them well after they can do it on their own. Just read his account of the miraculous turnaround at Solomon Lewenberg Middle School in Boston (Chapter 1), and the story of Sonya Carson and her son, Ben (Chapter 9).
In the years his book has been in publication, Trelease has received so many letters from readers extolling the impact reading has had on their life, or that of their child. Indeed, there are so many stories of high achieving students—valedictorians, Ivy Leaguers, those who received a perfect score on the SAT or ACT—whose only preparation was a family who read aloud and dedicated time spent undertaking SSR, that you’ll wonder about all of those families spending thousands of dollars on test prep courses.
In today’s world, parents feel behind if their child is not reading when they enter kindergarten. Yet, did you know that in Finland children are not taught to read until they are 7 years old? Oh yeah, and they have the highest reading scores in the world. We’re in such a rush to produce overachievers that we’re not allowing kids to be kids. What would you rather do: read a richly illustrated, adventurous picture book with your child, or sit and do 50 flash cards with them? I think we’d all choose the former, and so would our kids. According to Trelease, we’re not just making the fun choice—we’re also making the smart choice.
There are far too many statistics, anecdotes, and words of wisdom in the book for me to share here. I recently re-read the book now that the kids are older, and picked up on so many new things. It’s a book I plan to re-read again and again, as my children enter new phases in their lives.
Are you a fan of The Read-Aloud Handbook? Are there other similar books you’d recommend?
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