Monday, January 26, 2009

On my nightstand

" The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."
"It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades." from the 1983 Commission on Reading's national research findings report.

I just finished reading The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. I came to this book in reading various reviews on Amazon. I was actually looking at reviews for BOB books (early readers) when this book title came up a few times. So I decided to give it a try.

I am always in a kind of mental struggle over how much "school stuff" to do with Frannie vs. just not worrying about it and letting her be a kid. She has recently been introduced to the Starfall website that I mentioned in my last post and she enjoys it. When she plays the reading games she does just fine. This got me thinking that maybe I should get her some early reader books to reinforce what she's practicing on the computer. However, I'm hesitant to go into full blown teacher-mode with her because, for one, she has just started playing around with these games, and for two, something tells me she just isn't quite ready for all of that yet.

I believe she'll be ready to start learning when she's closer to 5 years old.

Jim Trelease's book is all about the importance of reading to your child and how that builds tremendous innate skills that prime a child for reading, writing, and school success. His book is filled with book recommendations (which I know I will find helpful at the library) as well as anectdotal and scientific evidence of how reading aloud to your child builds a love of reading, attention span, vocabulary, sight word knowledge, and a host of other skills that carry on throughout one's school days and life.

I have always heard that it is important to read to your children, and I have read to her regularly for a long time. However, this book made me understand the importance of what I'm doing and that I need to keep doing it and even expand it.

I equate it somewhat to the experience of being a new mom. There were many days, especially when she was a baby, that I felt like I wasn't really doing anything. I changed her diaper, fed her, took her for a walk, so what? It's only as she grew and I watched her develop that I had a better understanding of the true importance of all that I did in those early days. The building of trust. The presence of a loving hand and voice. The feeding of mama's milk. The routines. It all means something in the growth of a child. Even if it seems small, it isn't.

Similarly, when I'm reading aloud to her, I don't consider that I'm doing anything particularly important. But reading this book helped me to understand that the little activity of reading aloud is a BIG DEAL.

And it is true, that I've noticed in my reading aloud to Frannie, that Adam has a joy in books that his sister didn't at his age. I didn't really read to her much at 18 months (that I can remember). But since big sister gets read to, so does Adam. Frannie memorizes short books and "reads" them to her brother. He growls in the right spots, he says the titles (in his baby language that only I or Jason could probably understand. The book Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do You Hear? comes out "Po Bay"). Anyways, it's kind of neat to see.

So in my quest to figure out if I should be doing more "schooly" stuff, I found some reinforcement for the simple activity of reading. I do think I'll invest in the BOB books at some point, but when I went to Mrs. Nelson's book shop, instead of buying the BOB books, I got her a Berenstain Bears book w/ CD that she can flip through and listen to in the car .

1 comment:

Therese said...

That is great Jamie! My girls can't get enough now and I am always trying not to fall asleep when I read to them. I am considering the Son light curriculum because of the large emphasis on reading. I started to show Sarah flashcards of the words in her easy books like, "Polar Bear, Polar Bear..." and now she can recognize the words in the book and read it. Such fun to see them learning!