Frequently Children’s librarians are asked to recommend books to read aloud. Sometimes the request comes from parents and at other times we are asked by teachers. This is one of my favorite questions to answer because I know that listening to stories is an experience that actively involves the listener. It may seem like a passive activity to sit and listen but I have observed over the years that kids can get very involved in a story and if they see that the wolf is in for a big surprise, a collective gasp may be heard and someone may utter, “oh, no!” in anticipation of the outcome. Those listeners are actively engaging with the story and as they listen they will often hear new vocabulary words, learn that listening to stories is a pleasure and the adult becomes a reading role model.
A great champion of reading aloud to kids of all ages is Jim Trelease, author of The Read - Aloud Handbook. Mr Trelease once made the observation, “No player in the NBA was born wanting to play basketball. The desire to play ball or to read must be planted. The last 25 years of research show that reading aloud to a child is the oldest, cheapest and most successful method of instilling that desire. Shooting baskets with a child creates a basketball player; reading to a child creates a reader.” I would like to take this idea a bit further and suggest that no one has to choose between sports or math or chess and reading. Reading fits in beautifully with all interests and pursuits.
Whenever you read to a child, no matter what the child’s age, important “things” happen. Very young children build the skills that will be important as they learn to read independently. When you read to older children you continue to encourage a love of books and reading and as you build a repertoire of shared stories there will be opportunities to talk about those stories and listen to your child’s ideas and opinions. Talking, listening and sharing – about books and so much more! Stories shared as a family may be long remembered. I remember that when my brothers and I were in elementary school our mother would read to us after school. We were so excited about Peter Pan that we would hurry home (we lived within walking distance) and whoever arrived first would plead with our mother to start reading because we assured her that the missing siblings wouldn’t mind. Mother always waited for everyone to arrive because, she knew of course, that we would mind. My brothers and I still laugh about this. We had many favorite stories and I think that it is not a coincidence that we have all enjoyed a life-long love of reading.
Summer is almost here so make plans to keep books and reading an important part of your family’s summer schedule. Find a special spot to gather together and get lost in a great book. We happen to have many great books at the Library and we’re always happy to make recommendations, so please visit often! Don’t forget to sign-up for Summer Reading! We have programs for ages 3 through adult!