Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reading to Kids

I've kept many of the books I had as a child and recently looked through some of the old picture books. Among my favorites were Cheeky Chipmunk and Chatterduck by Helen and Alf Evers, The Pokey Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey, and Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. How I loved hearing those books read over and over by my parents at bedtime.
It's a good thing I kept them because later I shared them with my preschool and Kindergarten classes as a teacher and read them aloud again as a grandmother.
Years ago I read about a scientific study intended to discover which method of reading instruction worked best. It showed the only thing the highest achieving college students had in common was that they had all been read to frequently as kids. Of course it might also be that those students had been read to a lot because their parents were smart and they had inherited that intelligence, but it certainly can't hurt to read to children.
When I was a child parents were discouraged from trying to teach kids to read because they might do it "wrong" and their children would have to unlearn what the parents had taught them when they reached first grade. My parents followed that recommendation, but I was among a group of kids that entered second grade reading at fifth grade level. All of us had been read to a lot by our parents.
When my daughter was young I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom so I operated a preschool family daycare home. I only spent a few minutes a day doing things like singing The Alphabet Song and showing them how to write their names, and didn't try to teach reading. However I read to the kids a lot and several of them spontaneously began reading on their own.
Reading to young children is a wonderful way for parents and kids to share time together and it can make a big difference in the rest of their lives.

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