27 June 2006

"Beefing up" reading aloud to your kids

Duane passed along some smart, simple twists on reading aloud:

Maybe this is what everybody's doing anyway, maybe not. But when reading (or singing) to your kids, especially the younger ones, pause periodically on the meaningful words and see what happens. Chances are very good that they can complete the thought for you, having memorized it from the many readings. Maybe not on the first try, in which case just continue reading. But if the pause becomes part of how the story is read you may find them jumping in eventually.

I was very surprised to discover that our 20 month-old daughter knows the entire ABC song, all the sound effects to "Mr. Brown Can Moo", and all the animals in "Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See." True it's just memorization and not understanding (knowing the ABC song is not the same thing as knowing or recognizing individual letters), but it's very early speech development and a great way to interact while reading. She loves getting to read a portion of the story.

For older kids try reading the words wrong ("He can sound like a cow, he can go honk honk!"), and see how fast they correct you. Or if that fails to keep their attention, see if they can recite the entire thing to you, entire sentences at a time. Great for memory skills. I tried reciting The Lorax once from memory while we were brushing teeth or something, and my oldest actually corrected me when I forgot a paragraph. She's 3.

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This works especially well with books that rhyme. My oldest could "fill in the blanks" in his favorite books very early on.

Another trick I've learned from reading teachers: When you introduce a new book, look at the cover picture, read the title and ask the child to predict what will happen in the story. Then at the end you can talk about how your ideas were different or the same from what really happened in the story.

Pause to talk about the pictures in the book. Ask where things mentioned in the story are in the pictures.

Just a few other things that help pass on early reading skills to little ones.

My kids are much older now and have been reading for years and years (9 and 13). But I just want to say that spending time helping in my kids' classrooms over the years has proven to me how critical reading aloud to kids is in terms of their later reading acquisition. Prose and poetry has a completely different rythme than speech and those kids who had been read to 'got it' and were able to read with more flow, as well as understand and use punctuation. Those who didn't have that exposure still struggle in the higher grades. Bravo to all of you who read aloud. When your kids get in school, help the kids who don't get that.

My daughter made me laugh just last week by doing this exact thing:

http://dirtroadphotography.com/siddasays/?p=15

Also take the time to tell your child the author and illustrator. My five year old has self published a dozen books already, and he's started putting his byline on each. The last one had a list of "Other books by the same author". Take time to notice the details-- they do.

I think you'll like my post related to kids reading. They're older now (7 and 9) and have their own brand of reading aloud -- Sneak-Reading http://kellycurtis.blogspot.com/2006/06/sneak-reading.html

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