Thursday, October 30, 2014

Reading Out Loud is . . .

In one of my early childhood classes in college, my professor had one saying we all heard daily: "Reading out loud is the single most important thing you can do for a child." When it comes to their education I really do have to agree. Reading opens so many doors, and children who struggle in reading tend to struggle in most all areas of school.

Unless the child has a disability that interferes with reading ability, children who struggle often struggle because they were not read to at home. Just like many things kids learn there are stages to reading that can't be skipped. 
  1. Kid's learn what a book is and how fun it is
  2. They learn that the pages have something meaningful
  3. They learn how to hold it the right way and turn the pages to make a story
  4. Finally they learn that the scribbles on the page mean something. This is the point they are ready to learn to how to read. 
Imagine if they went to kindergarten not having been read a book? 

What should you read to your child? Everything and anything you can get your hands on. One of the great things about being a parent is knowing what your child is interested in. Teachers can't know everything about your child and can't customize reading to fit your child's need, but you as a parent can.

In our house we read picture books for fun and for information. My four year old is very interested in a spider book now and her Bible. My oldest is interested in easy readers since she can read some of the words on the page. Picture books is where I let them be in control of what we read. 

My girls are currently 5, 4, and 3. Guess what we read at night? Before bed we read a short devotion from a princess devotional and a chapter book. If it's my husband's night to read, they read something he has picked out. Currently it's an Usborne girl story book, but in the past they've read The Bernstein Bears (chapter books), Magic School Bus and so many others. On my night's (Mon-Fri) we are reading through the Little House Series. Currently we are reading By the Shores of Silver Lake and the girls are loving it. 

Now I'm sure your wondering if they actually listen and understand chapter books. Well the answer is yes and no. Yes the 5 year old listens, understands, and remembers. The 4 year old listens most of the time, understands some and is curious about some things, and sort of remembers. The little one will usually sit quietly and listen.

So what's the point of reading to the younger ones if they barely remember and understand? The purpose is to train them to sit and listen and retain. It's a skill that has to be developed. We have been reading chapter books for 2 years now and you can slowly see the abilities in sitting still, listening and comprehension increasing. Vocabulary also increases since they are exposed to more complicated language then you find in typical picture books.

As a family we are closer. Spending that time reading together is a memory they will always cherish. It is one of my favorite childhood memories. It is something that brings us together at the end of a long day. 

So don't be afraid to pick up books that are slightly above their reading level. Spend some quality time with your kids and help them become lifelong readers. 

Here is my list of book recommendations to get you started:
  • Little House Series
  • Chronicles of Narnia
  • Harry Potter
  • The Secret Garden 
  •  Adventures in Odyssey book series
  • Micheal Vey by Richard Paul Evans
  • Lion of War series by Cliff Graham (about King David's Mighty Men)
  • The Boxcar Children
I'd love to hear what you like to read with your kids. 

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