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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why read aloud to children?

Received this interesting broschure during this week's toddlers time - Why Read Aloud to Children? by Jim Trelease. He is the author of the New York Times Bestseller, The Read-Aloud Handbook. There are some interesting notes and facts to take note:

How can something so simple as reading aloud to a child be so effective?
We start with the brain. As lumber is the primary support for building a house, words are the primary structure for learning. And there are really only two efficient ways to get words into a person's brain: either through the eye or through the ear. Since it'll be years before the eye is used for reading, the best source for ideas and brain building in a young child becomes the ear. What we send into that ear becomes the "sound" foundation for the rest of the child's "brain house." Those meaningful sounds in the ear now will help the child make sense of the words coming in through the eye later when learning to read.

The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study found that of the children who were read to at least three times a week as they entered kindergarten had a significantly greater phonemic awareness than did children who were read to less often, and were almost twice as likely to score in the top 25 percent in reading.

Everytime when you read to a child, you're sending a " pleasure" message to the child's brain, conditioning it to associate books and print with pleasure. There are, however, " unpleasures" the child comes to associate with reading and school. Learning can be tedious and boring, threatening, and without meaning - endless hours of worksheers, hours of intensive phonics instruction, and hours of unconnected - test questions. If a child seldom experiences the " pleasures" of reading and increasing meets its " unpleasures" the natural reaction will be withdrawal.
What are the skills a child needs for kindergarten?
There is one skill that matters above all others, because it is the prime predictor of school success or failure: the child’s vocabulary upon entering school. Yes, the child goes to school to learn new words, but the words he or she already knows determine how much of what the teacher says will be understood. And since most instruction for the first four years of school is oral, the child who has the largest vocabulary will understand the most, while the child with the smallest vocabulary grasps the least.
Once they begin reading, personal vocabulary feeds (or frustrates) comprehension. And, since school grows increasingly complicated with each grade, that's why school-entry vocabulary tests predict so accurately.

We make it a habit to read to the three girls before bedtime. Hope through this, we can send more " pleasure" message for them...

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