Three’s Good Company when Reading…

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Two’s great, but three’s a party! A friend recently shared, with some dismay, that his wife often listens when he reads to their little ones and participates in the conversations that ensue. He said that it makes him feel as though he is being evaluated by the “Queen of Reading Aloud.” Ouch!

In response, I tried to put a different spin on that experience. I offered that the addition of someone else to what is most often just a ONE-adult-and-ONE-kid activity dramatically expands the value of book sharing and reading aloud for children, especially preschoolers. 

Reading aloud with youngsters on laps is a predictable staple in every family that succeeds in raising excellent readers who choose to read independently every day. It also lays a solid foundation for more formal education as children continue to develop through their teens and into their adult lives.

Traditionally, “Read to him every day” is the only advice that new parents get about taking on the essential role of enhancing their new family member’s education.  That’s great, even essential advice, but it isn’t the whole story about how parents can kickstart a child’s learning life through reading. 

Parents and kids also should talk about what they read. After all, the conversations about books anchor a sense that books and thoughtful reading have deep value. Adding more family member voices to conversations expands and enriches the possibilities that those conversations will nurture a child’s penchant for lifelong reading and learning.

Indeed, while a one-on-one conversation about a book with a lap-cuddled child is undoubtedly a sweet interaction, adding another participant or more expands the potential for reflection about and personal connection with books. Little ones who observe a group’s wondering and dialogue about a book’s content are provided with an opportunity to expand their growing conceptions of the personal power of books and reading. 

It’s very much like the edification that adult readers receive when they participate in book clubs. Perspectives different from one’s own and thoughtful inquiries are predictably spawned by many participants. This multiplier effect shines a light for toddlers on how personally exciting and enriching group thinking and conversation about a book can be. 

Two is terrific. More is magnificent!

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