In this blog, Mrs. Rose, our MWF 2’s teacher, shares one of her passions with us: reading aloud to our kids. Thank you to Mrs. Rose for her time to create this and for her loving direction in the classroom. We know you’ll love to read what she has to say.
Over the course of my ten year teaching career, there has been one question I have been asked the most by parents – “What can I do at home to help my child?” Every time I reply to this question, I feel parents are thinking ‘how can something so simple really help my child be successful?’ You can imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon a book written by children’s author Mem Fox titled, Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever. In this book, Ms. Fox explains why the most important thing you can do at home to help your child is… READ!
Mrs. Toth reads at circle time to her 2’s class.
Language development, family bonds, and speaking skills are a few of the benefits of reading aloud to children. Mem suggests reading a minimum of three books a day – one new book, one familiar book, and one favorite book (unless of course, the same book is being requested three times). She goes on to further state:
…if every parent understood the educational benefits and intense happiness brought about by reading aloud to their children, and if every parent – and every adult caring for a child – read aloud a minimum of three stories a day to the children in our lives, we could probably wipe out illiteracy within one generation.
Some of our 2’s grab a dad during free play to read. Laps are the best spot!
You may be thinking, “I already read three books a day to my child,” but please take a moment and reflect on how you read those books to your child. Are you going through the motions? Thinking about your to-do list? Or are you engaged and in the moment? Mem states, “reading aloud is not quite enough – we need to read aloud well.” We can do seven things with our voice to keep listeners engaged – read loud and soft, fast and slow, high and low, and pause. If you would like to hear some examples of Mem reading out loud, I highly recommend checking out her website. It will definitely up your reading aloud game!
Reading is extremely complex and tricky. It involves looking at the words and figuring out what they mean. There are a bag of tricks we use when we read and Mem shares three secrets we use to help us decipher the meaning and get the message.
Blog author, Mrs. Rose, has kids clamoring to hear this book during free play.
The first secret is the magic of print. In order to makes sense of what we read, we first must understand the language and how it works. We can imprint print by reading out loud to children. The more they see print, the more they will understand letters and punctuation, bold print, italic letters etc.
The second secret is the magic of language. If we want children to read, they need as much experience with language as possible. This not only includes reading out loud, but singing songs, and playing with words. Mem states children who can “rhyme will be readers. It’s that simple.” She also refers to experts who state, “if children know four nursery rhymes by heart by the time they are four, they will be the best readers by the time they are eight.” I did a mini-fairy tale quiz on my children recently. Let’s just say you can probably guess what kind of books are in my current Amazon cart!
Mrs. Fitz reads to the 4’s in their reading nook.
The third secret is the magic of general knowledge. These are our coat hooks – real life experiences and encounters our children have had first hand. They not only encounter these experiences out in the world, but also through the world of books. They learn about places they’ve never been, or see things they have never seen.
Mrs. Johnston reads to some of her 3’s during free play. Sometimes they prefer stillness in reading a story.
When we take this exposure to print, experience with language and general knowledge, the magic happens and children begin to read. A good reader uses these three secrets (print, language, and knowledge) at the same time, quickly and effectively. I believe Mem says it best when she states:
…[the] benefits of reading aloud are not recognized or sufficiently promoted. Even when the benefits are known, many parents don’t take them seriously enough because they feel reading aloud is too simple and obvious to be that important…So let’s help kids learn to read by reading aloud to them often, whenever we can, to make familiar what was once unfamiliar. Then let’s read aloud again. And after that? Well, we’ll read aloud!
What we model, our kids will do!
Ten Read-Aloud Commandments written by Mem Fox
- Spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud. From birth!
- Read at least three stories a day: it may be the same story three times. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read. Or the same story a thousand times!
- Read aloud with animation. Listen to your own voice and don’t be dull, or flat, or boring. Hang loose and be loud, have fun and laugh a lot.
- Read with joy and enjoyment: real enjoyment for yourself and great joy for the listeners.
- Read the stories that your child loves, over and over, and over again, and always read in the same ‘tune’ for each book: i.e. with the same intonations and volume and speed, on each page, each time.
- Let children hear lots of language by talking to them constantly about the pictures, or anything else connected to the book; or sing any old song that you can remember; or say nursery rhymes in a bouncy way; or be noisy together doing clapping games.
- Look for rhyme, rhythm or repetition in books for young children, and make sure the books are really short.
- Play games with the things that you and the child can see on the page, such as letting kids finish rhymes, and finding the letters that start the child’s name and yours, remembering that it’s never work, it’s always a fabulous game.
- Never ever teach reading, or get tense around books.
- Please read aloud every day because you just adore being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do.
Alumni come to read to our Kindergarteners as Mystery Readers.