Raising Life-long Readers is Up to Us!

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17 Great Read-Alouds for Preschoolers!  

23 Never-Fail Read-Aloud Choices!

Reading Aloud—the Launch-pad for Great Conversation!

Parents and teachers see these kinds of headlines all the time. They are a constant reminder of the importance of reading with our kids and of the truly fabulous and fairly steady stream of wonderful book choices available from book stores and libraries (local, online and school) that are touted for providing certain joy to share with our children.

A read-aloud family.

A read-aloud family.

THAT of course is a great first goal—JOY! The layering of daily, happy interactions with books and reading, and the rich conversation that they inspire can set a child up to expect books to offer something special.

They all won’t, of course, unless we take at least one more important step—PARTICIPATION.

The book is not just one more pretty thing to pull out or click on whenever reading time rolls around. Despite the  headline, a “Great Read-Aloud” is not just a guaranteed good book choice. It is a call to action on the part of us accomplished readers to use the book in a way that helps us move kids ever closer to fully literate lives.

Taking on reading aloud is a call to get actively involved in creating a memorable event in a child’s life. What makes read-alouds powerful and important is the depth and quality of interaction that adults, older siblings or schoolmates have with their tiny audience members.

We must not leave to chance that they become avid readers. It’s on us to do whatever we can to ensure that outcome.

Reading aloud for and with small ones is a tremendous (and perhaps scary) opportunity. Why? In the same way that a child can learn to fear dogs as a result of the overly friendly dog next door, they can become book phobic if they encounter a disorienting, bland or negative experience when a book is waved in front of their faces, even by someone they love very much.

So, how do you get started with doing this right? First you need a hat. No, seriously! You need a read-aloud hat or wig or cape or sweet/cute song or all of the above that will be the regular signal that it’s read aloud time! Woohooo! Is this fun or what?! No, you don’t need a hat, but be prepared to try anything.

Reading aloud for preschoolers has to be fun. Fun of course comes in all sizes and shapes. But this is not a circus. There will be quiet reflective times when books connect with the inner and social lives of your child-audiences. Those are not raucous fun. They can be nearly silent times of shared inner warmth. Sweet!

With that in mind, how many times have we read the book and how many options for character voices have we considered? Are we prepared to invite personal discoveries or offer invitations for book-inspired wonderings? Have we identified ways to invite sharing by our wiggly audience as the book begins…unfolds … ends?

It’s important. It’s not a performance. It’s about leading them to eye-to-eye, shoulder-to-shoulder engagement with new ideas and unexpected events and amazing language found so consistently between the covers of those good books.

How are the young ones going to be invited to decide which books get read and in what order…and how to request repetition? Do we have positive acceptance ready in response if the tired kid in Captain America jammies rejects our choice of nightly reading material? Our classic/never-fail, all-time favorite read aloud might be a clunker for the kid wearing a tutu and sporting peanut butter on her chin. She needs to know the book selection is her call.

With each daily reading installment we build upon a child’s concept about the joy of discovery, and the power of choice and freedom of self-expression that comes with books. We help develop this through engendering rich conversation and modeling thoughtful analysis of captivating artwork and savoring beautiful language, all of which extend beyond the tiny’s predictable experiences.

Each of us will do read-alouds in our own ways. Whatever ours is, we have to do this process right because we may be the only influencers shaping little ones’ ideas about where books and reading fit into their lives…or don’t.

Books MUST fit into their lives. It’s on us to nurture strong lifelong learners.

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