World Read Aloud Day

Wednesday is World Read Aloud Day!  Try setting aside some extra time to read your child’s favorite books.  After all, you’re doing great things for their language skills when you read aloud to them.

Research has shown that children who are read to regularly and frequently before they begin school have better oral language skills than those children who are not read to.  When a child listens to stories and discusses them with an interested adult, they develop knowledge about the world and understand words and concepts that cannot be learned easily from casual conversation.

Although you may get tired of reading that same book over and over, your child benefits from hearing the language over and over.  And don’t just read the book, give it all you’ve got.  It’s your time to perform ~ be dramatic and animated and look excitedUse different voices, create characters, get your child involved in making sound effects, and model how to ask questions about what is happening.

What are your favorite family books to share?  Tell us which ones capture your child’s attention the most!

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Harry Potter Love

I read a recent blog post on “The Happiness Project” about children’s literature and the magical images created by well-written books.  When those imaginary scenes are recreated in front of us, in real life, we experience the same sense of happiness that we felt when we first read the story.  For example, take this real-life art installation at King’s Cross train station in the U.K.

For any fan of Harry Potter , this sculpture is enough to bring a smile to your face.  The author of “The Happiness Project” talks about other sculptures she would create, if given the chance.  To read more from the post on children’s literature sculptures, visit:
http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2011/02/why-do-i-feel-such-intense-happiness-at-the-thought-of-this-piece-of-public-art.html
I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to read some of my favorite young reader novels that I enjoyed as a child (The Secret Garden, The Dark is Rising series, James and the Giant Peach, among others.)  It will be my excuse to jump right back into the wonderful world created in these stories.  When a child is enthralled by a story, they learn to map complex language onto their thoughts.  The character descriptions and dialogue expand their communicative world.  Many of these stories are filled with abstract language, with figurative language forms like metaphors and similes, idioms, and multiple meaning words.  If you are reading to your child, you can choose a book that is several grades more advanced than what they can read on their own.  Try stopping periodically to discuss the plot and new words they may not know.  The middle school students I work with love the Twilight series, and many adult friends of mine have also gotten hooked on the book.  Another favorite is the mystical animal world in the Redwall series complete with characters similar to my childhood favorite Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of Nimh.  And I am excited that my daughter will get to add Harry Potter to her list of childhood books.

 Reading stories with my daughter is one of many ways I can experience my own childhood again and the wonders that come with discovering and learning.  Carolyn Downey, a mom of four in my MOPS group recently put it this way: “One of the things I love most about being a mom is that I have an excuse to do things that I might not do otherwise.  For example… I can look inside a fire truck to see where the firemen sit and discover what buttons to push to sound the alarm… because I have children and I am teaching them to ask questions and be inquisitive.  I can get out of my chair to sing and dance with Professor Banjo… because I have children and I am modeling how to participate in a group.  I can sit and have stories read to me at the library story hour… because I have children and I am helping their literary development.”

So rediscover those childhood books you loved.  Someday soon I will post about writing development, another area very near and dear to my heart.  Who knows, maybe one of your kids will be writing those young reader novels someday, creating magical worlds full of adventure and wonder.

Library Time

Our local libraries are a great resource for families with kids.  In my area of Portland, the family storytimes cover all levels.  I attended the Baby Times with my daughter, where the librarian read books, sang songs, and blew bubbles.  My daughter outgrew those groups when she learned to walk, preferring to check out all the strollers in the room rather than listen to the patient librarian.  I stopped going to the library times for a little while, as I knew I couldn’t force the issue.  Instead, we immersed ourselves in the wonderful book area, checking out new books for weeks on end.  With the online renewal system, I never realized it was so easy to have a book for three, or six, or even nine weeks at a time!  You can read “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” sooo many times in nine weeks!  (I was ready to return it at six weeks ;P)

My daughter returned to the library storytime groups once she was able to sit still (a little.)  She often goes weekly with our friend and her son.  We read at home daily, and it’s part of the pre-nap and pre-bedtime routine to read three or four books (or five, if she can convince us.)

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