I have a nine-year-old daughter who loves to read. She would, most likely, choose reading over any other activity. Her third-grade teacher expects 70 minutes of reading time at home for the week. This past week, my little book worm, read 496 minutes. I think you get the picture…
A couple of months ago, I was sitting in a reading workshop with a fellow educator. The trainer said, “The children who read the most, are the ones who are read to the most.” I turned to my colleague and said, “I don’t read to Sydney anymore.” It just dawned on me that because I had raised such an independent reader, I know longer got that “lap time” with her. My friend said, “Choose something that is above her reading level and read it to her.” Great idea! We decided on The Chronicles of Narnia. I was excited to begin since I had never read these classics either. Little did I know, that our Narnia time would become beloved by not only my daughter and myself, but also by my five-year-old (rambunctious!) son, and my husband. The interesting part is that while I have been reading these seven volumes to my family, I am reading many professional books at work about the importance of reading aloud, building background knowledge, and the importance of vocabulary instruction. Like most great activities, what began as a fun family time, turned into a rich educational experience for my children . My five-year-old frequently interrupts my reading to ask what a word means, to inquire about a character, or comment on the setting (I must admit, sometimes it’s so frequent that it causes the reader to react in a somewhat annoyed tone – ahem).
As I write this post, I am in the middle of creating a presentation to share with the secondary content area teachers at our junior high and high school. I will be sharing some reading strategies that they can take to their classrooms. Guess what I section I just finished…Read Alouds. By reading Narnia to my children, I am able to add to their vocabularies, expand their knowledge on England during that time period, share information about knights, dukes, kings and queens, tie the books to Biblical references that they are learning about during Sunday school and our nightly devotions, and model fluent reading for them. Even more, we are having good discussions about the text we’re reading, which research shows increases their learning and solidifies the new content into their knowledge base. In a time of electronics and digital media, cracking open a good old-fashioned book is invigorating. Having my two favorite children pressed up against me is a feeling that can’t be matched. Knowing that I am helping them become life-long readers is invaluable.
I only have one problem…we are on book #6. What do we read together next? Any suggestions???