A Little Literacy, Please: The Read-Aloud Handbook

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I read.  A lot.  All about babies and child development and pregnancy, even though as a nurse and child psych professional, I knew a lot about that kind of stuff.  Somehow it’s “different” when it’s your own little person you”ll be responsible for the next 18-21 years. 

Needless to say, one of the books I read while I was incubating little Kate was, “The Read-Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease.  (5th edition, Penguin Books, 2001). 

What I liked about this book is, while it’s main purpose is to encourage a love for reading, it also suggests that the best way to do this is to read to your children.  Pretty basic information, sure–but do we do it often enough?  Long enough?  And for many years to come–even after your child can read independantly?  The book contains a whole section of titles of books to read to your children at certain ages–yes, even through 6th grade (although some researchers are suggesting that parents and children read aloud with one another even into the high school years).  We’ll get back to this point in a minute.

Here’s another point the book makes: “Children should be exposed to books as often as they are to toys.”  Wow.  I wonder if that is the case for my kids? 

In any case, before Kate could understand many words or even even see much beyond the face that was just 12 inches in front of her, I read to her.  I would snuggle her up in the glider in her nursery and read a board book or a even one of my own books–she didn’t care what the content was–just that someone who loved her was spending time with her, and introducing her to a new idea, vocabularly, cadance and rhythm. 

For now, we have moved on to “chapter books,” as my girls call them and have devoured the “Ramona” series by Beverly Clearly and are starting to delve into the American Girls series. 

And yes, I suppose I will continue to read to them as they get older.  Perhaps we’ll have a family read-aloud of “War and Peace” as they enter high school or reading from the banned book list…who knows?  It just may generate some good family discussion. 

For now, happy reading!

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