Update: My mom called to correct my memory. Apparently I was 4 or 5 when I got my first library card. Once we learned to tie our shoes, my mom took me and my siblings in to get our own library cards. This very grown-up card was our reward for learning a life skill. This is a perfect example of using books/reading/positive characteristics as a reward for good behavior. Sometimes the reward of behaving well is the good behavior itself, but sometimes we as parents have to come up with more material sorts of rewards. Books, library visits, personal library cards for little people can all be great ways to reinforce both good behavior and the importance of reading with our children. Thanks, Mom, for your awesome example!
In case you didn’t know, though I am nearly 100% positive that most of you do know, I am one of those crazy people who homeschools their children.
Have I lost you yet? Probably not since most of you are family and stuck with me anyways! So to re-cap, I am homeschooling my kiddos and since they are not school-age yet most of the schooling around here centers on reading aloud. Two of my very favorite things lately include the Read Aloud Revival podcast/all things Sarah Makenzie and this book by Jim Trelease.
I grew up in a family of readers and my parents read aloud to me and my siblings regularly when we were little. I had a library card from the time I was 7 or 8 years old and my siblings and I always participated in the summer reading program. I read voraciously through elementary school (I had the most AR points by a long ways, I don’t remember exactly how much but I’m guessing about 200 or so ahead of the next high reader) and middle school but slowed down in high school due to extracurriculars and high school classes plus college classes and the textbooks that come with them. My undergraduate degree in Family Life and Human Development taught me the importance of reading to children and the statistics reflecting the higher academic achievement of children who are read to from birth to age 5. When Henley was born I started reading simple board books to her and we began attending storytime when she was 13 months old. My own life experiences with reading and books and the evidence of advancement (large vocabulary, understanding complex ideas, speaking in complete sentences, creative storytelling) I have seen in my own child already set me up to value reading aloud to children.
Then I stumbled upon the Read Aloud Revival Podcast. The host, Sarah Makenzie, interviews writers, illustrators, educators, and social scientists weekly about strategies and benefits of reading aloud to children. She has a free booklist with suggestions of books that are especially lovely to read out loud (over and over again since young children like repetition). Sarah also has a book called The Read Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids through Books which compiles the information from the podcast and blog into one easy to read and reference format. I love Sarah’s take on homeschooling, parenting, and life. And I love that she introduced me to Jim Trelease’s Read Aloud Handbook.
Jim Trelease compiles and explains the research and benefits behind reading out loud to children, long after then can read themselves, and makes the case for reading aloud as the single-most important thing our nation, our communities, our families can do to raise test scores and, more importantly, raise education and character in our youth. If I wasn’t already a believer in reading, and reading out loud specifically, the work of Sarah and Jim most certainly would have converted me.
Scenes like this make my heart so happy.
Babies, very young babies, can learn to love and enjoy books and being read to, if only we will take the time and patience to do so. Don’t worry about ripped pages, squirmy little humans, or constant interruptions. All of these things are good and demonstrate a connection the child is making with the book.
Another author I admire greatly Susan Wise Bauer stated “a few ripped pages are a small price for literacy,” in her book The Well-Trained Mind.
I can’t agree more with this statement. Reading aloud is a central part of the education going on in my home, actually its a central part of the home itself. In our family, we read books together, in our home we read books together. It’s part of who we are.
A like-minded friend, Dani, and I have started a storytime for children 0-3 years old at our local library. We have tried to provide a fun, entertaining, and delightful experience to the families who have attended, and we’ve tried to educate parents on the importance of sharing stories with their kids and a few tips and tricks for doing so with young children. It’s been such a fun and challenging experience to plan these storytimes and I have loved the creative outlet which allows me to share knowledge on a subject I am passionate about.
I highly recommend the work of Sarah Makenzie and Jim Trelease, local librarians and storytime programs, and reading aloud to your kids (even if they can read to themselves).
And thanks for letting me get down in writing that I am, in fact, a homeschooling mama. They say the first step to overcoming addiction (or stress, I’m going to take the liberty of adding) is admitting you have a problem. I have the problem of chronic over-scheduling and over-reaching and here I am admitting that I plan to take the entirety of my children’s education upon my own two shoulders. With a lot of grace (and some very wonderful books, mentors, and extracurriculars) I think we’ll make it through all right.