As a teacher, I write about many things I do with young children. I will tell you that the most important thing I do is reading aloud. I know this is #1. I also chapter read, which is uncommon in preschool. It is my favorite part of the day. Children feel the same way. At the end of the school year I send a newsletter to families about the chapter books we read throughout the year. And of course I tell them so much more.
June 17, 2020
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.
When we left school and started distance learning, we were on page 53 of Little House in the Big Woods. I read aloud the story on YouTube, finishing the book, and then began reading (and finishing) Little House on the Prairie. It was 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 had to show my grandfather’s 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. There was much more that we typically don’t get to finish during the school year, from Mr. Edwards meets Santa Claus, 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 vote on our favorite chapter books each year. Charlotte’s Web is typically the clear winner.
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 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, 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. I am featured in the seventh edition of the book.