“You may have tangible wealth untold: Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be – I had a mother who read to me.”
-Strickland Gillian, ‘The Reading Mother”
Do you take those precious moments to read aloud to your children? Again and again perhaps? Did you know establishing this simple habit can greatly impact the future success of your children? What tender moments these are snuggling up with your kiddos.
I recently completed The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and what a convicting read it was for me! His emphasis throughout the book is proving the point that reading aloud to your children throughout their childhood and teenage years can make the greatest impact on their education.
Story after story is told in this book detailing these successful students and they trace back their success to the consistency of their parents (both mother and father) in reading alot to their children, even for just 30 minutes each day, even well after they learned to read for themselves.
I recall night after night scaling the heights of many adventure stories with my daddy as a child. What treasured memories these were for us.
Why Read Aloud?
The Commission on Reading, performed a study in 1985, titled Becoming A Nation of Readers, which discovered that:
- “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to your children.”
- “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”
The experts discovered that reading aloud was more important than work sheets, homework, assessments, book reports, and flash cards. One of the cheapest, simplest, and oldest tools of teaching was being promoted as a better teaching tool than anything else in the home or classroom.
“The more you read, the more you know; and the more you know, the smarter you grow.”
Reading is the single most important social factor in American life today
Jim states: “A nation that doesn’t know much is more likely to make poor choices in the home, the marketplace, the jury box, and the voting booth. And those decisions ultimately affect the entire nation – the literate and the illiterate.”
Reading builds relationships in addition to increasing vocabulary
“Whenever an adult reads to a child, three important things are happening simultaneously and painlessly: 1) a pleasure connection is being made between child and book, 2) both parent and child are learning something from the book they’re sharing together (double learning), and 3) they adult pouring sounds and syllables called words in the child’s ear.”
The speaking vocabulary, reading vocabulary and writing vocabulary – all have their origins in the listening vocabulary.
Some important points that stood out to me:
Encourage the daddies to read to their children.
A study conducted in Modesto, California, showed that boys who were read to by their fathers scored significantly higher in reading achievement, and when fathers read recreationally, their sons read more and scored higher than did boys whose fathers did little or no recreational reading. Fathers have a great influence on their children and what an opportunity to invest in their lives.
Lead by example – become a reader.
Our children are like little sponges, soaking up the values of their parents while they sit in living rooms, kitchens, and cars. The more the parents read, the more your children will read. The more we talk about what we read, the more our children will be intrigued as well. Place books, magazines, and newspapers, all over your home. Saturate your home with books. Find snippets of time to read personally while you wait, in the bathroom, before bed, and watch your children’s interest grow. When reading is our hobby, it may very well become their hobby.
Fill your home with a wide range of reading materials.
Surrounding our children with a wide variety of reading materials – books, newspapers, magazines and the like, statistically leads to a higher success rate in school and the greatest interest in books in general. Jim Trelease goes so far as to state that series of fiction are significantly beneficial if not for the content but for the love of reading they inspire.
Don’t be afraid to require your children to read.
The author presents the challenge, “we require our children to pick up their rooms and get dressed, why should we not require them to read?” We think that requiring them to do something will discourage their desires, but statistically it is just not true. The more you read, the better you get at it; the better you get at it, the more you like it; and the more you like it, the more you do it.
The Read-Aloud Handbook is thorough and motivating. It includes an excellent “Treasury of Read-Alouds” in the back of the book. Every book we have read from his recommendations have been immensely enjoyed by my children.
The conclusion I came to is you may do nothing else with your children but reading aloud for schooling for the first six years of their life, and they will be well-equipped to jump in, if they haven’t already on their own, to the world of reading, and loving it too!
There is no doubt that reading aloud to your children is a very bonding experience. It is cheap and simple. It only requires time investment – but it is the best investment!
For other quality read-aloud selections, check out these recommendations:
Honey for A Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt
Read for the Heart: Whole Books for the Wholehearted Family by Sarah Clarkson