What is so important about the read aloud?
I am going to speak from my own experience and not quote a whole bunch of statistics to prove to you that reading aloud to your child will help them out. School teachers, libraries, celebrities, the news, doctors and a limitless number of other people tell us to read to our kids every year. Why is that?
There are many evidence-based reasons one should read to their children. You can see them on graphs and charts developed by researchers. But, should numbers and statistics be your only driving force?
I feel that three of the most important side effects of reading with your child are:
1 Developing a Love for Books
2 Understanding the english language
3 Developing a strong bond between you and your child
I want to share my story with you, and then you can check out the links to the right to learn more.
My oldest son went to kindergarten in public school and while there he did learn how to say his letters. Then I decided to homeschool for many reasons. I first tried copying the public school model in my home. It made sense; I went through public school. I had worked in public schools and my husband taught at a public school. We had a lot of experience teaching.
The reading program we were doing was great, my son was learning way faster than I had thought possible, and then it happened. One day he had the hardest time ever and all of the letters and sounds were getting jumbled up. The prescribed method was going too fast and he could no longer keep them straitened out in his mind. We were both frustrated and tears were a regular part of learning to read.
We detoxed (took a break from schooling) for a good 6 months or so and then I just started to read to him. We did not do reading lessons, we did the occasional sight word game if he chose to and that was it. I just read. We discussed meanings of words when needed but we never did spelling or reading tests.
At age 8 my husband became a little worried because our son, for the most part, could not reading. He would come home from work and, feeling that I was not "teaching him how to read, would sit down and try to teach him how to read. Every time this happened he would avoid books for a few weeks. I finally convinced my husband not to push him to read and to just let it go.
Within the next few months he started to read road and business signs. He was picking up books again to look at them. He was trying to read words on his own and asking how to say words he could not figure out.
Then one evening we were reading scriptures and some people who were visiting asked my son to read a verse. My husband and I were both nervous for him because he was not the best reader yet. Shame on us! He read that long verse, complicated words and all, without hesitation. My husband and I had to just laugh out loud because we were astonished and so proud of him. Fast forward 2 years and he is reading Harry Potter books all on his own.
Why does this work? I believe it is because there is a bond being built between reader and listener. You're spending time together, maybe even sharing your lap. You're talking about things you have read and discussing thoughts and feelings the books bring to mind. There is no other activity that can facilitate the same emotional bond as sharing a book with another person.
What kind of books do we read to our children? We make it a habit to read unabridged books. We make very few exceptions. The vocabulary is so rich in the unabridged version of books. Why Dumb it down.
John Holt, author of Learning All The Time, observed the teaching practices of multiple learning environments and found that a person only needed about 30 hours of self taught reading to lay a foundation. From there they found venture off on their own. You can read more on this here.
Do your child a favor and read to them morning noon and night. They will grow so much from it.
Beware of Anti-Readers
This is a great article by Oliver DeMille about those around "voices" all around telling us what we should and should not be reading. Things like reading is for kids, Books are for certain ages, only reading books you agree with, and more. You too, may be and anti-reader and you dont even know it. Read the Article
What Should I Read Aloud?
At TJEd.org (TJEd stands for Thomas Jefferson Education) they have compiled wonderful lists of books to read to your children. You will find familiar titles from your own childhood and many titles you would have never thought to have read to your children before they were preteens.
Read This Blog post on How to Pick Your Next Read Aloud
Core Phase Read Aloud
Can your Core Phase littles handle more than Dr. Seuss, Thomas the Train and Eric Carl? Yes they can. You can already be introducing them to the world of classic liturature. With tips from this article found at TJEd.org you can get Core Phase off to an outstanding start. Read this Article
60 Classics in a Year
Ok, the number 60 may seem like a lot right now but once you get going and make reading a culture in your home you will be surprised how many books you can read in a year. This blogger at TJEd Mothers has 4 children, two with learning disabilities, and reading is a big part of their family. Read the Article