Read to me

''You may have tangible wealth untold: Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be - I had a mother who read to me.''

- Gillian Strickland

Do you take those precious moments to read aloud to your children? Did you know that establishing this simple habit can greatly impact the future success of your children?

I recently discovered 'The Read Aloud Handbook' by Jim Trelease and I've found it quite inspirational. His emphasis throughout the book is proving the point that reading aloud to your children throughout their childhood and teenage years can make a greater impact on their education that almost anything else you do.

Story after story is told, detailing these successful students and they trace back their success to the consistency of their parents (both father and mother) in reading a lot to them as children, even well after they had become competent readers themselves.

Why Read Aloud?

The commission on reading performed a study, in 1985, title 'Becoming a Nation of Readers' that showed that:

  1. “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to your children.”
  2. “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”
The experts discovered that reading aloud was more important than work sheets, homework, exams, book reports and flash cards. One of the cheapest, simplest and oldest tools of teaching was being promoted as a better teaching tool than anything else in the home or classroom!

The more you read, the more you know; and the more you know, the smarter you grow.

Jim states “A nation that doesn’t know much is more likely to make poor choices in the home, the marketplace, the jury box, and the voting booth. And those decisions ultimately affect the entire nation – the literate and the illiterate.” So reading is an important social factor, not just for our children, but for the wider community.

Reading also builds relationships and increases vocabulary.

“Whenever an adult reads to a child, three important things are happening simultaneously and painlessly:

1) a pleasure connection is being made between child and book,

2) both parent and child are learning something from the book they’re sharing together (double learning), and

3) they adult pouring sounds and syllables called words in the child’s ear.”

So here are my highlights of the book for you:

Encourage daddies to read to their kids

A study conducted in Modesto, California, showed that boys who were read to by their fathers scored significantly higher in reading achievement, and when fathers read recreationally, their sons read more and scored higher than did boys whose fathers did little or no recreational reading. Fathers have a great influence on their children and what an opportunity to invest in their lives.

Lead by example - become a reader!

Our children are like sponges, soaking up the values of their parents while they sit in living rooms, kitchens, and cars. The more the parents read, the more your children will read. The more we talk about what we read, the more our children will be intrigued as well. Place books, magazines, and newspapers, all over your home. Saturate your home with books. Find snippets of time to read personally while you wait, in the bathroom, before bed, and watch your children’s interest grow. When reading is our hobby, it may very well become their hobby.

Fill your home with a wide range of suitable reading materials

Surrounding our children with a wide variety of reading materials – books, newspapers, magazines and the like, statistically leads to a higher success rate in school and the greatest interest in books in general. Jim Trelease goes so far as to state that series of fiction are significantly beneficial if not for the content but for the love of reading they inspire. It doesn't need to be expensive either. Try and fit regularly trips to the library into your schedule where new material can be borrowed for free.

Don't be afraid to make it a rule

The author presents the challenge, “we require our children to pick up their rooms and get dressed, why should we not require them to read?” We think that requiring them to do something will discourage their desires, but statistically it is just not true. The more you read, the better you get at it; the better you get at it, the more you like it; and the more you like it, the more you do it.

There is no doubt that reading aloud to your children is a very bonding experience. It is cheap and simple. It only requires time investment – but it is the best investment!


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