Reading Aloud With Preschoolers
While connecting experience to language is an important foundation for learning to read, giving children direct contact with books is equally important. In fact, the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.
When adults read aloud, children quickly learn that a book is a wonderful thing. When an adult happily reads aloud to children and reads stories that delight both the adult and the children, the experience can be magical. Often adults relive the joys of stories that were important in their own
childhood and pass those special stories on to the next generation. The children bask in the warmth and intimacy of sharing a book with a loved adult. Even if children do not fully understand the story or poem being read, they may enjoy simply hearing the tone and cadence of the adult’s voice, and they will naturally learn about the nature of stories and the structure of language.
There is more to reading to children than just saying the words. Reading aloud is a social event, a shared activity in which children are encouraged to ask questions and talk about a story. A story may be the jumping off point for great discussions. For example, what would your children say if you asked, “Why did the hare think he could get away with sleeping on the side of the road?” Pointing out the connections between the story and your children’s own lives is also important. Comparing Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny of Beatrix Potter fame with the rabbit you saw at the pet store, at the zoo, or in the woods will help your child distinguish between real and make-believe.
It is not so much who reads with children but rather that someone does it regularly and with joy.
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