This week we have been talking about the great benefits of reading aloud to our kiddos. If you missed any of these posts, head back to Day 1 and scroll to the bottom for a complete list! To wrap it up, I thought you might want some ideas to jumpstart your read aloud library.
What to Read?
Regardless of their age, look for great stories. Look for stories that are as enjoyable to you as they are to your kids.
E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan said, “Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down. Children are demanding. They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick, and generally congenial readers on earth…Children are game for anything. I throw them hard words and they backhand them across the net.”
That being said, keep the bar high. Choose books with rich vocabulary and descriptions that paint a vivid picture. It takes time for kids to see that “movie” in their mind as they listen or read a story, but the better the story, the more likely that skill will come.
Got wiggly kids? Grab some blank paper and markers, and let them draw as you read. The drawing will occupy their right brain and free up the left brain to listen to the story.
We love a family movie night! All the kids piled on the sectional couch with blankets. Yummy snacks and hot cocoa this time of year (maybe lemonade in the summer months). But it can be a challenge to find a good movie that the whole family can enjoy. So many of the movies from our own childhood are not exactly appropriate, especially for the younger kids. I remember putting Home Alone on my for my kids once and being shocked at some of the language!
Over the past two weeks, the flu has hit our house, and everyone is taking a turn on the couch with tissues and hot tea. We all stayed in this weekend, and Family Movie Night turned into Family Movie Weekend!
Two of the films we watched might not be on your radar, but if you’re looking for good picks for your next Family Movie Night, check these out.
Redemption of the Commons is an inspiring story of finding God’s purpose in the circumstances we’ve been given. And The Master Designer – The Song is a fun and engaging look at some of God’s amazing creatures. Read on for a review of both.
When Should We Start Reading to Our Kids?
Some would say we should start reading to our babies as soon as they’re born, but I think we should start even before that. A study was done at the University of North Carolina in which 33 pregnant women were given a passage from a children’s story to read to their unborn babies. They were asked to read it three times a day for the last six weeks of pregnancy. Fifty-two hours postpartum, the babies were each given a nipple to suck as they listened through headphones to a woman’s voice (not their mom) reading three different passages. The researchers measured the babies’ sucking rates and found that the babies showed a preference for the passages that their moms had read during pregnancy.
When Should We Stop Reading to Our Kids?
Remember the recommendation from the U.S. Department of Education Commission on Reading that we talked about yesterday? If you didn’t get a chance to read it click here. They said reading aloud to children “should continue throughout the grades.”
Reading to my teens has been one of the most bonding and rewarding times for us. It’s a time for deep diving when we talk about what makes people tick and what we hold as the core values that drive our decisions.
Tom Sawyer’s brilliant (albeit mischievous) ploy to manipulate his peers into paying him for the “opportunity” to whitewash his aunt’s fence sparked a great discussion with my kids. We talked about Tom’s genius and his ability to manipulate people and situations and how he had a choice to use those gifts for good or for bad. We talked about how Tom Sawyer could have been a great entrepreneur, and we contemplated what causes a person to choose well or not choose well.
When we read The Giver, we talked about the pros and cons of socialism and how this conversation is extremely relevant to changes in our own society. We talked about aspects of their society that we admired and aspects that seemed oppressive.
In the teen years, when so many things are competing for our kids’ attention, reading aloud can offer intimate moments with them that we might not otherwise find.
Check back on Friday. We are going to offer suggested reading titles for kids of all ages. In the meantime, leave a comment below telling us some of your favorite read aloud selections.
Vocabulary is an important part of reading success. Kids have a much easier time decoding words that they recognize and understand. But vocabulary isn’t only critical for reading, it’s important to learning as a whole. According to readaloud.org, “The number of words that a child knows on entering kindergarten is a key predictor of his or her future success.”
This week we are talking about reading aloud to our kids. If you missed yesterday’s post, take a look.
Out loud reading is crucial to vocabulary development because it exposes kids to a higher volume of words and to words that you don’t normally use in everyday conversation. In his bestselling book The Read Aloud Handbook, author Jim Trelease explains that most people use about 5,000 words in regular conversation. These make up a person’s Basic Lexicon. People also pull from additional bank of about 5,000 less often used words, and together, these 10,000 words make up a person’s Common Lexicon.
But the true test of the strength of a person’s vocabulary lies in their ability to understand and use a smaller group called the “rare words.” So how do we expose kids to these rare words if they’re not a part of our daily conversation? By reading to them.
And as it turns out, words have a huge impact on learning.
Out of all the different ways that we can help our kids succeed in school, the number one thing that parents can do requires nothing more than a free library card and time. We can read to them.
In 1983, the U.S. Department of Education was concerned about low academic performance scores, so they funded a Commission on Reading who spent two years combing through thousands of research reports conducted over the previous twenty-five years, and in 1985 they published their findings in a report titled Becoming a Nation of Readers. Amidst all of their digging, they discovered that reading out loud to kids is the number one most important thing we can do to help our kids become successful learners.
“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” the report said. “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”