Coffee with Ms. J.
“We must take care that children’s early encounters with reading are painless enough so they will cheerfully return to the experience now and forever. But if it’s repeatedly painful, we will end up creating a school-time reader instead of a lifetime reader.”
-The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
I had a chance to talk with a few Upham moms this past Friday about the importance of continuing to read aloud to our children even after they can (technically) read on their own. This topic was inspired by a recent Wall Street Journal article, What You Miss After Your Child Learns to Read by Clare Ansberry, about how parents often stop reading to their children once the child has learned to read. Here are some of the highlights from our Friday morning conversation:
- Don’t forget how hard it is to read when you are just beginning. When my daughters were in 1st and 2nd grade I was reminded that learning to read is actually quite hard work. Grueling. Onerous. My daughters were not that interested in curling up with a book and reading… at least not yet. Spending 10-20 minutes a day reading a “just for fun” book to your child can remind them what all of that hard work is for… remind them of the joys of reading a great story.
- There is a lot of competition for our children’s attention and some of it (video games, Apps and movies) is really fun and entertaining. Spending time reading together gives reading a fighting chance with your child… a chance for him or her to realize that reading is fun and entertaining too.
- Spending time reading aloud to your child gives them your undivided attention - something children love and long for.
- You might be able to select a book that is special to you to share with your child, but be open if he or she is not as excited about the story as you were as a kid and be willing to try a different book if that first one is not a hit.
- Keep reading aloud to your children as they get older because it is relaxing, bonding, fun, together time that de-stresses you both at the end of the day.
- Don’t feel like you have to read to your child before bed if that is a bad time for your family… be creative and try different times like before school or every Saturday or whatever works for your schedule.
- Check picture books with CDs out of the public library for your child to read along with in the car.
- Model reading for your child - don’t forget that children love to do what their parents do (at least until they get to middle school)... if they see you reading they will be more likely to pick up a book or a magazine and spend some time with it. Invite them to curl up on the couch with you and read side-by-side.
- Jim Release's book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" is a valuable resource that you might want to pick up at the public library or purchase and keep.