‘Marinating Vocabulary’. I heard Pam Allyn, a guru on reading and reading-aloud, speak those words last week. They hit me like a stone. Each time I read aloud from a chapter book those words do far more than go into the brain. They truly marinate, by mixing words with feelings, life experiences, and the comfort of a ritual. The lovely repetition of sounds and words is holistic, giving reading aloud a greater importance.
Ritual is essential. Finding a time to read aloud every day means that you will do it, and enjoy it along with your children. Life is way too busy; one parent commented that by the time dinner was over and homework was done, both the children and the parents had no energy for reading aloud, it was a chore. Bedtime is the typical time for reading aloud, yet it may not be a good time. Whoa! I had never thought about family reading aloud at a different time. Have you? Well, Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook, most certainly has. I distinctly remember the photo of him reading aloud to his older children as they washed the dinner dishes. He found the right time for the ritual of reading aloud.
When you find that right time and begin reading aloud in earnest, the dialogue will become far more than words. Children will remember the story, yet they will most remember the sound of your voice; how you say the words and read the story. That’s what makes the words ‘stick’, and that’s what marinates vocabulary. That’s why my chapter reading and my storytelling to children is what they remember. Pam Allyn talks about ‘putting your voice into someone else’s heart’. My grandmother read to me, and that was my strongest connection with books. She was my heart, and I can still recall what I was thinking every time she read to me. Marinating vocabulary.
By the way, the sign of true innovation is flexibility. So, reading can be in many forms. Looking at words in print, whether in a book, on a iPad, in a newspaper, in comics, or other formats are…well, reading. That’s a good thing. Be flexible in everything from scheduling reading to what your child is reading. As long as reading is happening, that’s all that matters. You are making a difference by doing so.
Bottom line: Children who have been read to, and have access to books, are academically one year ahead of their peers in school, in all areas. Now, that is powerful!