Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Book Review: The Read-Aloud Handbook


The read-aloud handbook by Jim Trelease is a treatise on the importance of reading aloud books to your children (by parents or by teachers in classroom). Mr Trelease brings forth several examples of how some parents were able to inculcate into their kids the habit of reading by beginning to read to them from early childhood. I will try to summarize my own experience of following this idea with my kid Rushil (who is 3.5yrs old).

I don’t remember exactly when I started to read on a regular basis during bed time to Rushil but it was approximately around 1.5yrs of age and only recently around 2.5-3yr age Rushil has started to show very positive interest in the books and just wants me to continue to read to him one book after another. Nowadays I read to him for at least 30mins during bed time but that is the least and mostly I have to read 2 stories (either from one book or 2 books). We visit the library once a week on Saturday’s after him gym class and of late that has become a routine and Rushil has come to expect that on Saturday’s and going to library is a pleasure trip for him as he gets to pick books and also DVDs Smile there. We bring usually 2-5 books at a time with some books containing multiple stories. Apart from bedtime stories I also try to read to him while he is eating but that’s not a routine. Until now I have only been reading to him picture books and have also tried some chapter picture books (especially the Usborne anthologies ones which are picture books divided into chapters with about 70 pages for each story). I am yet to try reading a chapter from a Novel (like Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White). Once we also brought an audio book collection from library of Fairy tales and I was pleasantly surprised that Rushil was listening to the story of the Ugly Duckling quite intently. The audio books can be a good variety to play in the car at times.

Now going back to the book, the read-aloud handbook, it contains a list of books to be read aloud organized by the type of books and the kid’s age range. We can also find good lists on Amazon web site on which books to read to children of certain age. The list comes in handy in deciding which books are good to be read-aloud to children. In the first part of the book the author gives instances of several people who have written to him or spoken to him retelling their own experiences of reading to their students or children and the changes they witnessed in the kids. Also he mentions of research works which corroborate the fact that reading aloud to children is the best thing parents can do for their children’s education – by helping them build a solid foundation and imagination and most importantly inculcating in their kids the value of reading as a pleasure giving activity so that children are encouraged to read more as they grow. The book also recommends that parent’s themselves should lead by example by becoming avid readers. Reading aloud should also be done even after children start reading on their own. The book mentions of using close caption feature of TV while letting kids watch TV so that they also get to see the text together with what they hear – as this also may help in familiarizing the child with the sound and the text of words which will help them eventually in learning to read those text.

If you are a parent then it’s a good book to read to know about the values of reading aloud to your children.

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