Having been born into a family of bibliophiles, of course Hubby and I knew we would read to our little kids. Bedtime and nap time almost always included a story for our girls. And, we also knew we wanted our home to have lots of books at their disposal when they learned how to read for themselves.
And that was pretty much our goal… Read to them so
they would want to learn to read to themselves…
…Until I discovered a book lurking in the non-fiction section of the library…
Mr. Trelease not only advocated reading aloud to little people,
but continuing to read to them until they are teenagers.
The book was eye-opening. I really had not thought much about reading to older kids. My favorite part of school in the 1970’s was “SSR”… “Sustained Silent Reading.” That twenty minute period where everything in the school building stopped so we could READ. Oh, why couldn’t they make it an hour? To me, the goal of reading instruction was glorious independence!
However, as I read Mr. Trelease’s plea to parents and teachers, backed up by all sorts of research, I began thinking of read-aloud experiences beyond my preschool years. In second grade, we listened to tapes of Bill Martin and Noodles the Ghost reading to us from our readers. Not sure that counts as reading aloud, but the highlight of my day was listening for Noodles to say “Oodley Oodley Oodley” every time we were supposed to turn the page. In fourth grade, Mrs. Justice would dim the lights the last twenty minutes of the day, and have us rest our heads on our desks as she read whole chapters of Little House in the Big Woods to us. I found a kindred spirit in Laura Ingalls that year. And in eighth grade, bordering on those teenage years, Ms. Cole would bring in touching stories from Reader’s Digest that related to things we were studying in our social studies class. She would often be in tears by the time she finished reading them to us, which made the boys smirk a bit. I remember being angry at them for that.
Why read aloud to older kids? In a very small nutshell, it stretches them beyond what they are currently able to read for themselves. It develops their vocabularies and encourages them to like all sorts of books. It develops all sorts of reading skills. It allows kids to visualize the story instead of watching it played out for them on a screen. And best of all, reading aloud provides an incredible connection between parents and children, giving us things to discuss, compare, and enjoy together.