Stacey Loscalzo

Jul 17

More Read Aloud Please

by Stacey

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Last week, my wonderful children’s literature friend Jules, of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, alerted me to a recent article in The Guardian called Modern life means children missing out on the pleasures of a good book. 

The most alarming part of the article comes right in the second paragraph that reads,

“Research presented to the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield last week found that, while parents read to pre-schoolers, this later tails off, and by the final year of primary school only around 2% read to their children every day. Once children can read competently, parents tend to step back, and this usually happens at the age of seven or eight.”

The article goes on to describe a similar decrease in time spent reading aloud in the classroom as teachers suffer from the pressure of standardized testing.

What I find almost the most alarming about all of this is the fact that I almost fell prisoner to the same time demands of which we all complain. Over the winter, I stopped reading to both girls together, not having time, or so I perceived, to find a book that would appeal to both Katherine and Caroline. I was still reading to Katherine but only at bed time and I had completely let my reading to Caroline go. Fortunately, we were saved by the Penderwicks and I promise to not let this slip up happen again. And then I also stopped reading picture books to either of the girls. Katherine was loving the ‘big girl’ status of chapter books so I was letting her have at it. And then one trip to the library, a big canvas bag filled with books and two happy girls reminded me of how important picture books are to all children and frankly many adults.

I worry now about the future of the read aloud in family life. Clearly this article from The Guardian and my own actions support my fear. I have read Jim Trelease’s Read Aloud Handbook more than once and did a legitimate happy dance when the latest edition arrived in the mail last week. I have read and given as gifts Mem Fox’s Reading Magic and Daniel Pennac’s Rights of a Reader. I consider myself a passionate reader and yet I had run out of time to read aloud.

I know my girls are more than happy with our renewed focus on reading aloud and remembering our picture books. Here’s to continuing on, no matter how busy we get…

8 Comments

  1. Jen Robinson says:

    I appreciate your honesty about the struggle that this is, even for someone who is committed to it. Baby Bookworm fell asleep before we could read anything to her the past couple of nights, and I am feeling sad about it… Must read my new Read-Aloud Handbook!

  2. Katy Towsey says:

    I have seen this a lot as a teacher – fitting in reading to the class can be hard but shouldn’t be forgotten.  Also it used to sadden me when parents told me they no longer read to their children!  Children need to hear what a reader sounds like so they know to read with fluency and expression.  These skills are often developed once they are confident in their reading ability and this also coincides with parents stopping reading to them.

    • Stacey says:

      So true about the fluency piece. It is so important… I always wonder when parents started getting the message that they can stop reading once their children are readers…

      • Ali Posner says:

        Yes readjng aloud shows kids what fluent reading sounds like. It also can show kids what good thinking while reading sounds like. A benefit of reading aloud that most kids and many adults benefit from!

  3. […] I wrote yesterday about our recent re-discovery of picture books. […]

  4. Ali Posner says:

    I love your honesty too. At 7 1/2 it can often be difficult to get her to take a break from her own reading to be part of our family read aloud time (I have 2 younger kids). I have talked to parents about the importance of continuing to read aloud, even when kids are reading independently and well. But, I am now seeing how easy it would be to let that slip. It definitely needs to be a deliberate effort to keep it going–but once I get my daughter to join, she always enjoys it! And yes I couldn’t agree more about continuing to read picture books. Just likeany families stop reading aloud when kids are reading on their own, many also think kids grow out of picture books. There are many reasons to keep reading picture books. I think the key is to not let our kids believe that they are ever too old for reading aloud or for picture books! We talk about this all the time, and the kids know that both will be part of our family rituals forever!

    • Stacey says:

      It’s so true, isn’t Ali? I can’t believe how easy it is to let these super important reading rituals slip… 

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