A year of Chapter Reading

This is the newsletter I sent to parents on chapter reading – the single most important thing that makes a difference in teaching children:

Chapter Reading
June 11, 2019

Chapter reading is one of our treasured moments of the day.  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.”

When we finish a good 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 again and again.

We are nearly through reading Little House on the Prairie, and it is thrilling; from Jack the dog, to building a house, to Indians in the house.  Pa and his neighbor Mr. Scott dug a well, and we learned about the bad gas deep inside the earth (Pa had to save Mr. Scott) that only a candle can detect.  Of course I told children about my grandfather in the nines and his childhood portrait wearing a miner’s hat with the same candle. Laura and her family had fever ‘n’ ague (malaria), an illness that people thought came from eating watermelons.  Their neighbor Mr. Edwards actually met Santa Claus and helped to deliver their presents.

We encourage you to finish reading the book aloud to your child.  There is much more ahead, from A Scream in the Night, to Fire on the Prairie.  There is also fear of Indians, which I treat as an opportunity to discuss diversity and prejudice- ‘Gloria’ helps with that.  If your child wants to continue the series, the next one, Farmer Boy is about Laura’s husband when he was a little boy.  I recommend the following one, On the Banks of Plum Creek, which begins their next journey after the prairie.

We voted on our favorite chapter books this year.  Charlotte’s Web was the clear winner with 12 votes!

These are the chapter books we have read this year.  Good books are meant to be read over and over again.  We encourage you to revisit these wonderful books with your child:

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles

The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The fundamental constant that gives children the tools to succeed in school is languageThe 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, in all subjects.  Therefore, we will always campaign to read aloud.

A wonderful guide to book recommendations and to understanding the importance of reading aloud is the million-copy bestseller book, The Read-Aloud Handbook.  I have used the book since my children were little.  The author, Jim Trelease, visited the Aqua Room and GCS.  We are featured in the new seventh edition of the book.

Jennie, Heidi, Naomi, Katy

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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50 Responses to A year of Chapter Reading

  1. My Father’s Dragon is one of my favs from childhood. I remember taking it to my grandma’s one Sunday and reading it to HER! Being Italian and semi-bilingual this was a new book/story for her. I felt extra proud for that – funny the things you remember.

    • Jennie says:

      Wonderful story, Laura. And yes, funny the things you remember. Books help cement memories. I love that you felt extra proud with your grandma.

  2. Ritu says:

    So glad you share this with the parents too!

  3. A great way to tie in the family on school activities. NIce job, Jennie.

  4. Darlene says:

    What a great letter to send home to the parents. I believe many of them are not aware of the value of reading chapter books to younger children. When I have a display of my books, many parents walk by and say, sorry but my children are too young. Many grandparents, on the other hand, will often buy them for their small grandchildren. With age there is wisdom. Well done, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      Well said, Darlene! Most parents are not aware of the value of chapter reading. These newsletters do inspire some, and they will ask me for book suggestions. I often feel that my mission in life is to not only read aloud but to bring parents on board. It was my grandmother who read a chapter book to me, not my mother. Yes, with age there is wisdom. Thank you, Darlene.

  5. ksbeth says:

    wonderful and so perfect for teaching families as a whole. I still remember my 3rd grade teacher reading Dr. Doolittle and 4th grade teacher reading “A Wrinkle in Time” to us, and was so excited each and every day. I now do this with both my classes and my grandies and hope they will have memories of it too.

  6. beetleypete says:

    Charlotte’s Web is so eternally popular, and that advice you give to the parents is worth its weight in gold. But then so are you! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  7. Great advice and wonderful list of books to have or add to one’s library.

  8. Opher says:

    I hope they all respond perfectly to this Jennie. Reading is the essence of life!

  9. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, this is a wonderful idea!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Charles! This is where I prepare children for your class. Really. Without good books, long before they can read, children can’t fully develop complex thinking and deeper understanding, plus a large vocabulary. I wish you had been there last week when I bravely read “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” How else can we teach acceptance and diversity?

  10. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is another wonderful post on reading from the excellent teacher, Jennie!

  11. As always, you know what the children need, and give them so much more. Thank heavens for people like you and the others here who do such a great job of teaching. You are one and all to be congratulated. The parents and their children are so lucky to have you.

  12. Beautiful always. You are a wonderful teacher.

  13. Another great post, Jennie. I love listening to oral stories and I loved reading aloud to my boys when they were younger. They prefer to read to themselves now and I am sad that chapter of our lives is over.

  14. The parents can always trust in you! Greatest work ever! Have a beautiful weekend, Jennie! Best wishes, Michael

  15. Kids love chapter books if you choose the right interest level and the vocab is understandable to them.

  16. Your letter is a real service to the children’s parents. With all the sturm und drang about the state of education in this country, in this century, being read to when young and continuing to read is the best path to becoming well-educated.

  17. MeRaw says:

    Frank loved Charlotte’s Web and the Little House on the Prairie books.
    He was such an avid reader.
    x 📚 x

  18. dgkaye says:

    You’re so amazing Jennie. Not only are you a mentor to your class, but teaching the parents the right thing to do too. ❤

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