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Saturday, September 24, 2011

For Reading Out Loud... {part one}

When it's good to read aloud.

Oh, the preciousness of sprawling out or cuddling close while savoring a family readaloud on any given cozy evening of the week! There's nothing quite like it except for perhaps the gathering one by one around the piano as a hymn is poked out; resulting in a rehearsal of four part harmony a capella... (heheh. But let's be real. The latter has NOT happened in our family to date. Folksongs, yes, but only in one voice, and hymns? ...someday, I hope to sing them in four part harmony! I'm quite sure it's simply for lack of a piano...)

What is it about reading aloud? Is it the prolonged moments of harmony, togetherness, identification in common knowledge, the fact that all the kids are QUIET? :) Whatever it is, sharing a book is sweet.

I've always read aloud to my kids. It's the very first thing that comes to my mind with the word: homeschooling. Reading aloud always seemed the most obvious way to share knowledge before the kids knew to read themselves. And the sweetest. It wasn't long however, before the questions occurred to me, how long should this tradition continue? Is it something for young children only? Is reading aloud a necessity if I hope to turn out good readers? How much is too much?

We know that setting a good parental example in literacy is a very strong influence in producing children who enjoy reading. That is, when we are seen to enjoy gaining knowledge and living ideas from books, then it is a positive influence. On the other hand, if a child only sees his mother reading magazines, romance novels or glued to the screen reading homeschool blogs {gasp!} to the detriment of relationship and responsibility, this would NOT be a good example, now, would it?

Example is important. But example isn't primarily what I'm after when we read aloud. We must of course set an example by doing our best when reading aloud. Choosing good books, using correct inflection of voice, emotion, enunciation etc, are all important things we can teach by example. But when we read aloud we are really fluffing the nest a little, enjoying life together. In our family, it's a matter of being together and sharing family joy more than instilling reading habits. For us, reading aloud is not only for acquisition of knowledge in the early years but for sharing experience.

That said, there are many ways we share experience in story while reading independently. Family members or friends can read the same book and find common experience even when years span the readings. As Wendi has said, “Discussion still occurs, shared experiences still exist – and there's the added fun of asking 'Are you at the part where...?' 'What did you think when you got to the bit where she says...?' 'Don't you wonder what would have happened if he'd known...?'”

With young children, we read aloud in order to share wonderfully beloved stories since they have yet to acquire the skills to read them on their own. Their minds are hungry for story, and yet they are still immature when it comes to reading fast enough to satisfy their appetite for knowledge. With older children, we read aloud to share wonderfully beloved stories simply because we love to share the stories. :) I hope to continue reading aloud as long as my children will listen!

[ be continued]

A few book suggestions from the AO lists to read aloud for multiple ages
(there are of course many, many others):

C.S Lewis' Narnia series
Little House on the Prairie series
Pilgrim's Progress
Swallows and Amazons series
Little Britches series

What has your experience been with read-alouds?
Which books have been your family's favorites?

1 comment:

amy in peru said...

Doris wrote:
...Do you know the age range for "Swallows and Amazons" and "Little Britches?"

Either way, some of my favorites growing up were Patricia St. John books, especially "Treasures in the Snow," "The Tanglewood's Secret," and "Rainbow Garden." She is a Christian author, and a good one!...

Yay for Patricia St.John, I just finished reading her biography and we collected and read all her children's books as well! Our family LOVED those and they definitely deserve a mention, I just was going of the top of my head for some of the ones we'd read specifically off the AO lists for those suggestions.

Swallows and Amazons would be for 7-9ish and up
Narnia we actually read at 5yo, 7yo and again at 12yo... every time just as good! ;)
Little Brithces would be especially boy interest from 9ish.

Some other books we enjoyed with 5-6 year olds (also from the AO lists, many are free online):
Wind in the Willows
Burgess Animal book - if you can overlook the "Mother Nature" as the role belonging to God
The Blue Fairy Book
Jame's Herriot Treasury
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
King of the Golden River by John Ruskin
Peter Pan (or, Peter Pan and Wendy) by James M. Barrie [note]
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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