Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

I just read this book. I'm so surprised I haven't heard of it earlier! It was great. (I mean great as in content, of course it's non-fiction and not a page-turner like some suspense novel.) If you're looking to become converted and passionate about reading to your kids and reading in general you need to check it out. I just happened to see a friend list her review on the Goodreads website and I was intrigued that she said she'd read the Stuart Little chapter book with her son who is Cash's age after getting the idea from this book and he loved it. So I checked out the book and the arguments and evidence of what an effect it can have on kids - so much more than all the other programs government is trying to enforce - are so compelling, yet simple, it makes you wonder why we don't realize it.  This may become one of my new first-time parent baby gifts - love your child, give them a good home, and here is one of the other best gifts you can give them!  It would be a great book for educators to read as well and makes me really want to get my kids into a school that really encourages reading, especially just for the love of reading, not just for fear of being tested.

I'm sure I should thank my mom for all the reading she did to me as a child (I think sometimes 30+ books a day, she recorded in her journal); and un-thank college for scaring me away for reading for a good 7 years after all that forced reading totally turned me off from it.  I'm only finally recovering.  It also made me feel less guilty for reading around my kids. I usually feel like I'm being lazy and ignoring them so I can read, so I usually just do it on my own time when they're in bed, but this emphasizes how important it is for your kids to see you doing it for pleasure. Just like how readily they imitate you talking on the cell phone. I even had my own witness of this the other day when I pulled out a cookbook and was reading through trying to figure out dinner when Cash went over and picked out his favorite cookbook with the best food pictures in it and I looked over to see him with the twins sitting on either side of him on the couch "reading" the book to them. So cute. 

It's been fun to see that my kids have a better attention span for reading than I thought. As soon as I open a book and start reading, all three come join me and we read for a good half hour before I'm the one that gets tired of being squished by three kids and needs a break! And I've realized it's so much better for me to do this at any time of day - I'm so sick of the kids after the frenzy of the bedtime routine and always in a rush that I realized those few minutes can't count as my only quality reading time.

I also love that the book only singled out one library in the U.S. as a shining example of what modern libraries should be like - the Salt Lake City Public Library.  Way to go!  Too bad I haven't really been there as it was finished around the time I got married and moved away. But it has made me think I want another room in our future house - a wonderfully inviting library/office/study room.  (In addition to a really cool playroom. And a place to do hair. And to exercise so I don't have to have exercise equipment in my bedroom and living room anymore!! And a guest room. And possibly a guest house out back..... I better stop reading books and getting hobbies, I guess before this list gets any longer.)

Anyway, go read it if you haven't! And who knows, maybe most of you already have and I'm like the last person on the planet to ever hear of it - in which case I can't believe you didn't suggest it to me!


Anonymous said...

And when your niece Lacey was born, (now 19 or 20) I suggested to my parents that they give her "Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young," by Jim Trelease, which I now currently have, complete with their inscription to her. The great book you spoke of is currently on the middle shelf of the white bookcase in the room in which you were raised. It is absolutely wonderful. I have used both for reading to grandchildren, but so far your children had been too young. Also, thinking along the same lines, I just this morning reread a lesson I gave once on literacy and family reading and its importance! You are and always have been on the right track! xoxo, Your Mother.

Anonymous said...

How darling that Cash was reading the cookbook to his brothers!

Actually, the book on your bedroom shelf is "Hey! Listen to This: Stories to Read Aloud" edited by Jim Trelease, Author of The New Read-Aloud Handbook. This one was published in 1992, long after your young childhood.

xoxo, Your Mother

AnnaMarie Ferrell said...

You're not the last person to hear of it; I am! Thanks for posting about it. I'm going to request it from my library right now.

Byron & Susan said...

When I was taking teaching courses in college, that was a book we had to read in our elementary reading course. It was a good read. Glad you found it and reminded me of it.

Anonymous said...

The first summer the SL Library was open, we went with the "cousins club" for a visit. That afternoon the boys got to read to a service dog (like a dog for the blind, the kind that also visits hospitals probably), but one who was willing to be cuddled and read to. What fun that was for all of us. They each took turns reading to the very agreeable, shaggy, calm dog.

Rachel said...

I put it in my Amazon.com cart! Thanks, Jen!

Angela said...

I bought that book when I started teaching 14 years ago, and I don't think I've looked at it in at least 10 years. Yikes! Thanks for the great reminder. Now, to go dig it out...:)

The Spendloves said...

I have this book waiting for me at the library. Thanks for the recommendation!

Anonymous said...

There is a new book, "There's No Place Like School: Classroom Poems," by Jack Prelutsky and Jane Manning, Greenwillow, $16.99 (ages 4-8). Prelutsky chose 13 poets to explain the intricacies of science class, bringing a pet to class and recess. There are things to love about school and things to hate, but there is nonsense in all of it. These poems may be just right for reading-while-you-eat-your-cereal or for bedtime fun. Whenever they're shared they are sure to be enjoyed.