Reading Aloud Makes Learning Enjoyable
“NEXT to hugging your child,” says Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, give your child “a piece of your mind and a piece of your time.”
How? By reading aloud to him early in his life and often, recommends Trelease. The experience and benefits you and your child will receive are long lasting. In what ways? Not only will such reading bring back memories of treasured moments long after the child has grown up but it will help your child to become a better reader and learner too. Your child will also develop his visual skills because he will be learning to focus his attention on a picture. For example, at 18 months a child can already identify a picture of a puppy, and he can understand the word long before he can read it. In addition, not only will the reading, writing, speaking, listening, and imagining skills of your child improve but his attitude toward becoming a good reader will also improve—he will enjoy reading.
“Where will I find the time or the energy to read aloud to my children?” is the often heard cry of harried parents.
Jim Trelease observes: “The father who says he is too tired to read to his kids uses the same two eyes to watch a lot of television.”
To make an about-face in this attitude, author Trelease shares these hints with future parent-readers:
1. Read the right books. Most children do not like books that preach to them. But they do enjoy stories with conflict or problems to overcome. Make sure, however, that the child is emotionally ready for the book by previewing it yourself.
2. Pick the best time. Reading to your child early in the morning, when he is all wound up, is probably not the best time. Some read to their child while he is confined in a high chair or eating a snack. A natural favorite is bedtime. The child then has a longer attention span.
3. Meet the challenge. There is no harm in reading a book with a vocabulary beyond the child’s understanding. A parent can give a simple definition of a word, paraphrase, or even skip the difficult parts.
4. Use your reading skills. Reading aloud calls for good breathing and pacing. If you have doubts about your performance, tape-record a story, play it back, and then rate your own reading skills.
5. Watch the attention span. True, a good story will capture your child’s interest, but realize that he may not give his full attention to the story. Still, he will learn something from it.
6. Be patient. Like some adults who enjoy seeing the same movie over and over, children want to hear their favorite story read again and again because they discover new meanings each time. So instead of taking away a favorite book, simply add a new story.