I don’t remember when it started. My mom says at 3 months old, so I’ll go with that. Every now and then Dad read to me, but it was my mother that made it a nightly happening (and before naps..always before naps). I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that her mother read to her, as well as her grandmother, and down the line it goes. When reading aloud to your child becomes a tradition, not merely routine, it’s something you find value and sentiment in.
See my face? Looks a lot like bliss, right? That’s because it is. I have deep-rooted memories of my parents reading to me, and I can’t think of one time I didn’t enjoy it. We read Love You Forever, SkippyJon Jones, and Magic Tree House books deep into the night (so, in four year old time, around 8:00 PM), and falling asleep to my mother or father’s voice as they read to me was as comforting as it gets.
If that’s how I felt then, why would it be any different because I’m older?
Fortunately for me, my K-12 teachers believed the same thing. Rather than stop read-alouds at third grade, my fourth, sixth, seventh, and high school teachers continued. In my high school English classes, Mr. Arnold would read every book we had assigned to us (Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Crucible) aloud, having us follow along in our own books. Being the speech and drama coach as well, he had an excellent voice for reading, and our interest was piqued because of this. No assignments, no pre-work, no strings attached: it was pure unadulterated read-aloud time, and all we had to do was listen and reflect.
When we read aloud to our students, not only are we allowing to fully absorb the words and story we are presenting them, but we’re reminding them that reading isn’t all about the worksheets and papers to come. Students will see reading for what it is: relaxing, fun, and interesting. The best thing is that there’s so many ways to incorporate reading aloud into the classroom while meeting curricular goals. Tweeting authors questions and receiving personal feedback, making read alouds into seasonal celebrations, and even holding read aloud events like the All Night Reading event (which, by the way, I want to go to IMMEDIATELY) are all fantastic ways to get students back into books and loving it.
In addition to read alouds, I have to mention Her Majesty Kittle’s ideas from Book Love she presents. Book Talks that feature short snippets of the book with a bit of background act like movie trailers for students and hook them, while one-on-one conferences allow teachers to get to know their readers and tailor reading plans just for them. I can tell from experience that both these concepts translate so very well into the classroom, and knowing a teacher has taken time from his/her schedule to set up a reading plan just for me means a lot.
All semester we’ve been continuing the conversation on hooking readers and keeping them reading. Now we’re finding some solid solutions that have worked (it’s been proven!). How cool is that?! The more I read the more I get encouraged to try these new ideas; I need to discover all of this for myself!
Happy trails all. I’ve said my piece for today, but you can bet I’ll have more to say next week.