A Smile Says it All – The Written Word, and Reading

My pen-pal is reading my letter.  Connecting with a child is a wondrous thing.  When that connection is cemented in written words and reading aloud, it gives the child an enormous boost in emotional development and confidence.  Suddenly the world and people have a different perspective, and a deeper meaning.

I always champion for reading aloud.  Jim Trelease said it best:

  People would stand in line for days
and pay hundreds of dollars
if there were a pill that could do everything for a child
that reading aloud does.
It expands their interest in books, vocabulary,
comprehension, grammar, and attention span.
Simply put, it’s a free “oral vaccine” for literacy.

Since last year I have become a champion of writing letters, so that others can have the pleasure and experience of reading.  Reading and writing are bonded at the hip, best buddies, and you can’t have one without the other.

My pen pal proudly read my letter to his grandparents, on his own!


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.
This entry was posted in Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Jim Trelease, literacy, reading, reading aloud, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to A Smile Says it All – The Written Word, and Reading

  1. beth says:

    I love letter writing and receiving. during covid, we had each child write a note to their teacher and we wrote back. they were amazing.

  2. You always find a way to bring the best out of the children, Jennie! 😉 Thanks for all your work! Beeing honestly i always asking me why the system with pen-pals had shrinked here in Germany. I remember it from my own childhood. There also was a possibility of foreign pen-pals, but honestly we never were pushed to learn a foreign language doing so. xx Michael

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Michael! I pay close attention to children, especially with my heart. That makes a difference. Pen-pals here are not something children do. I remembered this from my childhood, and knew it would be a great thing for my class. I guess I don’t always follow what other teachers do. I follow my instincts.

      • I agree, pen-pals can also bring difficult situations. But in the same age it would be an enrichment, so i think. You are teaching with heart and soul, and not with a listing in mind. This is the important difference, making your work so important and also successful. Thanks, and have a beautiful weekend! xx Michael

      • Jennie says:

        You ‘get’ the difference in teaching. Thank you for understanding. Yes, heart and soul is far better than a listing. My best to you, Michael.

  3. Fantastic!! You have such a wonderful way to connect with the young ones.

  4. joylennick says:

    You are a wonder with children Jennie, thank you! I’m now 90 (although how that happened is a mystery…) and can never read/learn enough. It’s so sad when I hear some people say “I don’t read.” Haven’t they a curiosity about life?!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much, Joy! I’m only a baby at 72 🙂. I was a poor reader as a child, and I only remember one time being in a library. My grandmother took me. It wasn’t until I had children that I understood the importance of reading. I jumped in with both feet, and that has never wavered. I know what you mean about the non-readers. Once they read, they have a curiosity about life. When I retire and have more time, I want to read aloud at a senior center.

  5. Education being primarily a parent’s responsibility, we started reading adventures with our kids very early on. They never lost their love of the written word and today they are still voracious readers (and confident writers). I love the short poem by S. Gilliland: “You may have tangible wealth untold … Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold … Richer than I you can never be … I had parents who read to me.”

    • Jennie says:

      Well said, Robert. I’m lucky that I have supportive parents in my classroom. Still, many do not read to their child consistently. Honestly, the children take home their enthusiasm for books and reading that I have shared, and that in itself has spurred parents to read aloud more. I am preaching to the choir here 🙂. I have always loved that poem. It speaks to me because I never had a parent who read to me. Yet, I have become the reader-aloud. That’s wonderful.

  6. beetleypete says:

    Well done to your pen pal, and to you. He looks delighted! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  7. It may be from the light coming in the window, but the letter seems to glow and the glow is reflected in your penpal’s face. You’ve made a little boy very happy!

  8. This is so heartwarming and wonderful! I love Liz Gauffreau’s thoughts and agree!!

  9. I think this is why we have “hung on” to the Christmas Card tradition. The fact you can mail someone a card, along with a hand-written note or letter on the inside, is still the most personal touch. You are investing time in getting the card, preparing the contents, mailing it. Instead of hitting a button during the Holidays, we like the concept of (still!) writing and reading.

  10. You are an inspiration, Jennie.

  11. quiall says:

    I have always said that the greatest gift my parents gave me, other than life of course, was the curiosity to read. And reading out loud is a wonderful way to share.

  12. Dan Antion says:

    This is fantastic, Jennie. What a smile!

  13. Darlene says:

    Penpals are special and we should encourage children to continue writing

  14. I can feel your delight at seeing him read that letter and his in receiving it. I still write snail mail and love getting it. I loved sending cards to nieces and nephews because getting mail makes a child want to read it. Brilliant.

  15. petespringerauthor says:

    This is right out of my playbook too, Jennie. What’s more exciting than getting a letter in the mail from a friend? Facebook, texting, emails, and other forms of communication are good, but nothing tops the feeling of a letter. It’s the personal nature that raises the bar.

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, yes! You hit the nail on the head, Pete. When it comes to all the communication in the world, nothing tops the feeling of a letter. It’s real. Now the ball is in my court and I need to write back to my pen-pal. Lucky me.

  16. Beautiful… Reading and writing are FUN-damental and your post says it so well, Jennie! 💞 Sharing and sending postcards off to my Greatgrands! xo

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Bette! I love your word ‘fun-damental’. I think I need to send cards to my grandkids, too. Wonderful that you have greatgrands! 💕

      • Two Grandguys (8 and 3)and one Grandgirl (almost 8)! So glad we can facetime one-one-on-one since they’re all in Florida. I like finding cute Maine postcards and sending them out once a month! Did that with my Grands when they were growing up too! ❤ Have a beautiful weekend, Jennie! xo

      • Jennie says:

        That is wonderful, Bette. It warms my heart. ❤️

  17. Brenda says:

    I love what you’re doing. My mother encouraged me to write letters to my grandparents as a child. My dad was in the navy so it was our way of connecting. 50+ years later and I’m still writing those letters .. not to mygrandparents regrettably but to other family and friends I’ve met through the years

  18. Brenda says:

    I teach adults (many of whom are straight from school) and my classes are being kept online. I cant get them to engage and I’m actually wondering if getting them to write, even through Teams chat, might help drive engagement

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  20. Awww What a beautiful smile and gorgeous photo, Jennie. 🙂

  21. dgkaye says:

    That’s beautiful Jennie. Letters should never go out of style. ❤

  22. bosssybabe says:

    Aww what a sweet pic of your pen-pal Jennie! That warms my heart 💕 I am such a lover of cards and written cards too… I love receiving cards with thoughtful messages from my family and friends (especially my husband)! It was one of the things I loved most about our courtship was his card writing! 💓

    • Jennie says:

      It never goes out of style and means so much to both the writer and the receiver. How wonderful that you and your husband exchanged cards while courting!

  23. Pingback: A Smile Says it All – The Written Word, and Reading – Nelsapy

  24. Interesting. My 7-year old daughter is a voracious reader. Loves reading. She reads aloud for my son, who is younger, but otherwise does not read aloud much. This is the first time I’m hearing about benefits of reading aloud. Nice!

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