Reading Together: Why, What and What is Next?
Reading aloud is important in our home. I have vivid memories of my mom reading aloud to me as a child. She would come into my room in the evening and we’d curl up together reading Madeline L’Engle books such as A Wrinkle in Time. I have read to my own children since they were babies and in the past 2 years we’ve made the switch to chapter books. Pip and Liv love listening to chapter books, whether audiobooks in the car or physical books I’ve found on family member’s shelves or in lovely used bookstores. I recently posted our first audiobook series for 2019 on my social media and was flooded with questions. So I’ve decided to answer some of them below!
Why Do You Read Aloud?
Research has shown us, time and time again, that reading is vital to child development. Reading aloud to a child exposes them to diverse vocabulary, develops imagination and teaches listening skills. And it helps develop lifelong readers! Even once your child has begun to read, it is important to keep reading aloud with them by selecting books beyond their reading level but tied to their interests. By reading to Pip and Liv, we are modeling reading for enjoyment while demonstrating how to read. Left to right, top to bottom, inflection, character voices and emotions like suspense, surprise and sadness!
What Books Do You Pick?
There are so many book lists out there. Some put out by libraries, authors, bloggers and more. The Read Aloud Revival has recently received a lot of press and I very much appreciate her exposing parents to the idea of reading to their children. While I have some hesitations with her book list, it is a fantastic place to start for many families.
There are some specific things I look for when selecting chapter books to read with our children. While it is hard to simplify it, here are the first three things I look into…
- Not Twaddle: Twaddle is “trivial or foolish speech or writings”. We look for books that teach character, written with “literary power” and expect intelligence from our children. A great explanation of this can be found here.
- Simple Drawings: Ask my poor husband, I will spend hours in a used book store flipping through multiple copies of the same book. I’ll request different versions of the same book through the library system and return most of them to the cart without ever checking them out. I don’t want a book that provides brightly colored pictures to my children. This takes away from their imagination’s job! I love a book with simple pen drawings in black and white. Enough to help them if they’ve never seen the story’s topic, but which leaves out most of the image for their minds to fill in.
- Engaging: There is a good chance that, if the story bores me, it will also bore my children. I look for books that we all find interesting. Not only does this keep my children loving our read aloud times, but it makes me more prone to pick the book up and excitedly start the next chapter.
What Did You Read in 2018?
We had so much fun reading chapter books in 2018. Many we were gifted by my husband’s aunts and some came from his grandma. They were older book with that wonderful “book smell” and simple line drawings. Here is a list of the ones we completed before the stroke of midnight last night:
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
- Stuart Little by E.B. White
- The Francis Collection by Russell Hoban
- A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
- Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne
- The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
- Return to the Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
- The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum
What Are You Reading in 2019?
Pip and I talked about a new reading goal for 2019. We had set our goal for 10 in 2018 and just missed it. Failure is ok in our house, we actually celebrate it! We love learning from our failures and talking about them openly. Despite our shortcoming this year, we decided to aim a little higher for 2019. We are going to try for 12 books this coming year! We are wrapping up a few from last year still while making a “wish list” for 2019. There are more than 12 books on the list because, well.. we like options!
- The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White (started in 2018!)
- Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
- Mary Poppins Comes Back
- Mary Poppins Opens the Door
- Mary Poppins in the Park
- Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane
- Mary Poppins and the House Next Door
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- Burgess Animal Stories by Thornton Burgess (started 2018, a huge series!)
- Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
- My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
- Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
- Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum
- We plan to continue through this series – there are 14 Oz stories by Baum, another 26 put out by other authors and even more “related works”
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S, Lewis
Let us know if you are reading these too – my children love to talk books with their friends!