Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reading Aloud Conversation

I have been following the Read Aloud conversation started by Jen Robinson with interest. I am always amazed at how big some of these blog conversations grow! Jen started the conversation asking about starting a campaign about the importance of read aloud.

I am a huge advocate of books and reading aloud. And, Mary Lee wrote her first book on this important topic. In her book, she talks to teachers about the importance of read aloud. She talks about the comfortable feeling in the room during read aloud and the things that kids learn when read aloud is an anchor in their day. Her book is an amazing one--one of the best for teachers on read aloud and how to make the most of read aloud time. If you haven't read it, I would highly recommend it. It is definitely a book that every library should have as a resource for teachers. Mary Lee takes a fresh look at read aloud and helps teachers see all of the possibilities. (She would not mention her book on her own so I thought I would let you know what a great resource it is!) The Stenhouse website says this about the book:

"Reconsidering Read-Aloud is a compelling example of the richness that can be found in this daily classroom event. With a love of literature, knowledge of her students, and the desire to teach kids to read more deeply, every teacher can bring the joy of teaching and learning during read-aloud to the classroom."

On another note, I worry when we decide what other parents and teachers should do. To be honest, I don't read aloud to my children as often as I'd like. I don't necessarily believe that reading aloud is THE most important thing I can do at this point in their reading lives. Instead, we talk about books every day. That doesn't mean that we don't talk about books every day.We do. I share new books, listen to their thoughts on what they are reading, etc. If we limit what we do as parents to read aloud, we miss out on the higher level conversations we can have that last them a lifetime. I know that my 3rd grader is in a school that values books. She has books read aloud to her every day. She has time to read on her own every day. The two of us rarely sit down and read aloud. Instead, we talk and talk and talk about books. We visit bookstores and libraries together. We ask each other's opinions on new books we find. We agree and we disagree. Is one more important than the other? I would say that being part of your child's reading life can happen in lots of ways. Reading aloud is one way and often the best way to start a lifetime conversation around books. But with new literacies and kids reading so much online, etc. we have to go beyond just sitting and reading aloud to our children. As parents, we need to talk about the books they are reading when we are not sitting next to them. They need to know that we are interested in what they are reading and what they are thinking about that reading.

I think there are LOTS of ways that parents and teachers can support children in becoming lifelong readers. Reading aloud is one of those ways. And a fun one at that. But there are other things that are just as important--visiting libraries, choosing books together, talking to kids about the books they read on their own, etc. I think there are lots of options for parents. Being part of your child's reading life is what I see as the critical part.


  1. Franki,I really appreciate your comment, "I worry when we decide what other parents and teachers should do." Me too. As much as I love reading aloud (maybe my favorite thing to do as a teacher) and loved my father doing it for me, I feel very uncomfortable thinking about parents who might not be able to do this for whatever reason. Maybe they feel self conscious (say for lack of schooling), maybe they are working two jobs and can't be there and when they are they want to do other important things with their children, etc etc. I'm more comfortable urging teachers to do this as I do think reading aloud is an incredibly important teaching technique and too often not recognized (especially when kids get a bit older). But only if it gives them pleasure too. Nothing worse than someone reading aloud who hates to do it!

  2. I just love that point- that we can be part of our children's reading lives in a variety of ways. I love reading aloud but I love book conversations too and drawing pictures inspired by books and so on.

  3. This is like music to my ears....I love your insights, your perspective on things. The one moment in my ESL class I don't negotiate is Read Aloud time. But as an ESL teacher I am a big advocate for the development and fostering of oral language. We are missing this piece in our every day school life.

  4. Thank you for such a good insight! As a huge fan of reading aloud perhaps it was even something I needed to hear. I agree with your critical point. Thank you!

  5. Very interesting post, Franki. I love to read aloud, too, and have had such fun with it. My son's teacher reads to the 4th grade class too, and I've seen such good things come out of that practice. In the family, the most important things are that the children are loved, well cared for, and safe. I include reading aloud as a way of showing love, but for another family it might be hiking together or sewing or playing football in the front yard. Only connect, as Forster said.

    Chicken Spaghetti

  6. I don't know that I'd use "should" either. Just permission. Some teachers say they would if they had time, but they can't because of "the standards." I'm trying to show them that if they want to read aloud, then they can and they will be hitting those standards as well.

    Thanks, Franki!

  7. I love this description of your reading relationship with your daughter. I hope I have that same kind of thing with my son as he grows up (he's 7 months old right now).

    And I can't believe this is the first I've heard of this book! I must read it!


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