Language, Literacy and Reading Aloud… part 1

Chapter reading is one of our treasured moments of the day in the classroom. We bring to life the imagination, the world, and the past. The anticipation of ‘what happens next?’ stirs excitement every day. Children listen and think. They ask questions. Ask your child, “At chapter reading where do you make the pictures?” You will hear your child say, “In your head.”  Preschool children understand this transition from picture books.

When we finish a book and then start a new one, emotions run high and low. The end of a good book is so satisfying and pleasant, yet…it is over. That is the wonderful roller coaster of reading. And, with each chapter book we read, we ride that roller coaster over and over again.

We have started reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The story is based in the 1870’s, in the big woods of Wisconsin where ‘a man can ride a horse for a day or a week and still be in the woods.’ We’re learning about life when there were no grocery stores and no cars. Pa hunted in the woods for meat for the family (Laura loved bear meat!). Ma stored food in the attic and the cellar. Laura and Mary made toys and pretend play from pumpkins (chairs), leaves and acorns (play food), corncobs (dolls), and all the things in the woods around their little log house.

It has taken us weeks just to finish the first few chapters! It prompted so many questions and dialogue. “Why didn’t Ma just put the meat in the freezer?” “What is a fiddle?” “How do you cut trees to build a house?” Yes, these are the questions that children are asking. How wonderful!

The fundamental constant that gives children the tools to succeed in school is language. The more words that children hear, the better they will do in school. Reading aloud to children is far more than an enjoyable experience. It increases their language development! In Kindergarten through grade four, the primary source of instruction is oral. The more words that a child has heard, the better s/he will understand the instruction, and the better s/he will perform in school. Therefore, I will always campaign to read aloud.

Good books are meant to be read over and over again. You and your child may enjoy reading together the chapter books that I have read to my class so far, Charlotte’s Web, The Story of Dr. Dolittle, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and My Father’s Dragon.

Need more? You can turn on the close-captioned on your television! The continuous exposure to the printed word that your child hears on television will drastically increase reading readiness. Wow!

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease is the greatest source of information for why to read aloud, and for what books to read.  I found this bestseller back in the 80’s when my children were little.  Lucky me!  The 6th edition was published this year.  If you want facts and statistics, he has them.  If you want stories as to why, he has those too.  Frankly, they are captivating.  This book has it nailed.

Stayed tuned for ‘part two’ on this subject.  I have so much to tell you.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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