From my first teaching day in Kindergarten at Coesse Elementary School in rural Whitley County Indiana, to the last day I taught in a general education classroom (also Kindergarten) at Harlan Elementary School I tried not to miss even one day of reading aloud to students.Reading aloud defined my teaching career. It directed me to focus on reading...and eventually to become a reading specialist.
More importantly, though, was that reading aloud was part of my home life, too. As parents we read to all three of our children each day...just like I did as a teacher. There's no other activity that I did as a parent that I remember as well...perhaps because it happened daily...or perhaps because it was such a wonderful feeling to cuddle up with a child and explore new places and characters in picture books and novels.
Meg has her own memories to tell about reading to our children...who were lucky enough to have two readers to introduce them to literature. For me, though, the memories of reading aloud to my children is central to my memories of fathering young children.
I read to our two oldest children, Kate and Sam, every day till they were about 8 or 9, using Jim Trelease's bibliography as a guide for choosing titles. Our youngest daughter, Ellen, however, got to hear a bit more. Since there wasn't another child waiting in the wings we just kept reading...and went on for another couple of years, I think. I don't remember dates or ages...it's good, I think that I spent so much time reading to them that I can't remember when it ended. I do remember that we ended with Tolkein...
Yesterday afternoon, after I had posted the entry about reading aloud I received an email from Ellen with the following subject:
The email contained a link to an article which began...
Father and daughter Jim Brozina and Alice Ozma didn't intend to read together every night for nine years; it just happened. When Ozma was in fourth grade, her parents split up and she found herself spending more time with her father. Brozina was a children's librarian and chose to bond with his daughter by reading with her every night for 100 nights.Alice Ozma wrote a book, The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared, about her experiences being read to by her father. There's a link to Alice's web site, her blog, and a story on NPR from last weekend.
At the end of 100 nights, they kept going, until Brozina went off to college. More than 3,000 nights later.
Take some time and read about Alice and her father...then, if you still have children at home, take some time and read to them. Start your own "streak" and read to them every day for the next 3000 days...
Below are the Twelve Benefits of Reading Books Out Loud to Children of all Ages from SixWise.com. We should move number 7 to the top and highlight it to include:
...closer family ties
...lifelong memories of time spent together
The Twelve Benefits of Reading Books Out Loud to Children of all Ages
- Build a lifelong interest in reading. "Getting kids actively involved in the process of reading, and having them interact with adults, is key to a lifelong interest in reading," said BeAnn Younker, principal at Battle Ground Middle School in Indiana.
- Children whose parents read to them tend to become better readers and perform better in school, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
- Reading to kids helps them with language and speech development.
- It expands kids' vocabulary and teaches children how to pronounce new words.
- Reading to toddlers prepares them for school, during which they will need to listen to what is being said to them (similar to what they do while being read to).
- Reading to older kids helps them understand grammar and correct sentence structure.
- Kids and parents can use reading time as bonding time. It's an excellent opportunity for one-on-one communication, and it gives kids the attention they crave.
- Being read to builds children's attention spans and helps them hone their listening skills.
- Curiosity, creativity and imagination are all developed while being read to.
- Being read to helps kids learn how to express themselves clearly and confidently.
- Kids learn appropriate behavior when they're read to, and are exposed to new situations, making them more prepared when they encounter these situations in real life.
- When read to, children are able to experience the rhythm and melody of language even before they can understand the spoken or printed word.