Monday, March 25, 2013

The Lost Art of Reading Aloud

A good family read-aloud.  Does it give you that Normal Rockwell kind of feeling?  Can you see yourself gathering your children around the fireplace (especially those of you in the Midwest and New England states today, brr!), sipping hot chocolate and settling in for a good story?  There's just something about sharing a good book together as a family.  It's simple.  It's easy.  It's educational.

So, why don't more families do it?  Mine didn't.  When I was growing up, we didn't read books  together.  I'm not sure why.  It's just not something we did.  My mom read me picture books when I was little, but that stopped once I could read on my own.

My children and I read books together often.  Most are fiction or biographies, but I slip in a nonfiction book every now and again.  It is usually met with a few loud sighs and someone always asks how many pages it is, as if knowing how long the torture will last helps ease the pain of it all.  I like non-fiction, they like fiction.  I've tried lure them to my side and they've attempted to push me over to theirs, but we have finally agreed to disagree.

We generally read after mealtimes.  A chapter or so a day keeps the book fresh in our minds and many times leaves them begging me to read just a little bit more.  They discuss the characters as if they are friends and act as if they know how those characters are going to respond to the circumstances they are in.  We can all get swept away in a good story.

The practice of reading aloud has made my girls incredible readers.  They have extensive vocabularies because of their reading habits.  It's given them a love for books, stories and characters.  It is a lifelong habit that will serve them in many areas.  I find that good readers are usually good learners. 

It's nice to have conversations about books.  Having a common activity binds people together.  Often I read to my students.  When learning about making inferences, I read a story from Encyclopedia Brown.  Most of my students have never heard of it.  It's an older series that my brother absolutely loved when I was little.  Each chapter is a mystery that Encyclopedia Brown must solve.  The story gives you all the information you need to solve the case right along with him.  The answers are at the back of the book.  My students hang on every clue as I read.  It's only a few pages, but during that time you could hear a pin drop in my classroom.  Before reading how the case was solved, my students have a lively discussion of the clues and what they think happened.  They don't even realize they are learning how to make inferences!

I would venture to say that most elementary teachers read to their classes several times a day, but what about those of us who teach secondary students?  It'll be more fun then you think.  Go ahead, give it a try.  You may even drum up a few images of Norman Rockwell in the process.


Andi said...

My fiancee and I started a tradition a while back of me reading aloud on road trips. I'm a reader. He isn't. But, we both enjoy sharing books together on the road. We went to visit my family over Easter and got so caught up in Treasure Island that we decided reading aloud together wasn't just for road trips any more! I'm just glad to get him to appreciate why I love books. ~Andrea P

A House Called Home said...

Andrea -
Congratulations on your engagement! What an exciting time this must be for you. So glad you got him hooked on reading aloud together - it really is a wonderful way to spend time together.

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