May I Read Something To You?
By JoEllen Kimball, Clerk, ISD 423 Board of Education
What is free, low technology, hugely important, and fun to do with people of all ages? The answer is read aloud. I was fortunate while growing up with four siblings to belong to a family that read. We were read to before bed, on Sundays during Advent, on summer evenings at our cabin in Wisconsin, and countless times in between. There was a seamless flow from being read to by both parents to becoming a reader myself.
A few of the books I loved that were read to me include, The Mailman of Bayberry Lane, Charlotte’s Web, The Boxcar Children, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Treasure Island, and The Call of the Wild. I am certainly not alone in valuing read aloud time. Jacqueline Kennedy said once, “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”
Another quote to support reading aloud is from Katherine Patterson author of Bridge to Terabithia, “It is not enough to simply teach children to read, we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations-something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out towards people whose lives are quite different from their own.”
All of our lives are different, unique, and busy. Time spent with our children is often filled with distractions. So in case you don’t see reading aloud to your family, children, or grandchildren fitting into your lives here is a list of ten reasons to read aloud in your home, to your family, and in school to your students.
10. “Reading of good books is like conversation with the finest men (people) of the past centuries.” Descartes
9. In case you weren’t read to as a child or even if you were, you can begin or continue a rich tradition. My 92 year old mother remembers having a teacher read Jo’s Boys to her in school.
8. You may get to know librarians in the Public Library or school media centers that are friendly and hold a wealth of recommendations for good read aloud books.
7. Reading aloud to children increases their vocabularies because a person’s listening level is higher than their reading level.
6. It will enlarge a child’s world and quite likely yours as well.
5. Reading aloud offers strong support for school success.
4. You become a positive role model for learning.
3. Reading aloud might help you keep up with what young people are reading.
2. Reading aloud promotes physical closeness.
1. It is free and easy.
If you are still not convinced then I challenge you to try it. My advice is to start with a short read; think The Mailman of Bayberry Lane rather than Treasure Island.
Ask your children or grandchildren about their favorite book or what a teacher is currently reading to them in school. Read this column to your older children and ask for their thoughts. How to begin?
Just try, “May I read something to you?”