On to the first chapter. Wait, what about the introduction? I must admit; I skipped the introduction and jumped straight into chapter 1. Then I went back and read it. I'm glad I did. The introduction and first chapter dove-tail nicely in thinking about reasons and values of reading aloud to children. A quote in the introduction contains the author's summary of this book--
"This is not a book about teaching a child how to read; it's about teaching a child to want to read."If you skipped the introduction, I'd recommend a quick read through it.
Okay, now to chapter 1. This chapter begins with a review of studies on students and reading. Trelease states it well: "Every child begins school wanting to learn to read. In other words, we've got 100 percent enthusiasm and desire when they start school—the first chapter of their life." But as they grow through school, fewer and fewer students are reading anything for pleasure. Why? They have no affection for reading; either teachers haven't planted a love for reading or that love has been "driven out" by the kinds of activities in the classroom. And if love for reading isn't reflected at home either, well, kids certainly won't develop it.
Trelease notes these values of reading aloud--
- Builds vocabulary. Kids from poverty hear less words spoken and come to school with a large vocabulary gap. These kids also have less printed materials in the home (in general). Printed materials contain more "rare words," words that go beyond everyday conversation and make up a large part of educational language. Reading aloud helps all kids gain vocabulary (for speaking, self reading, and writing), but can especially aid kids from lower socio-economic homes. (For research on this, see The Early Catastrophe.)
- Conditions the child's brain to associate reading with pleasure. What kids (and adults) enjoy, they repeat. What they dislike, they avoid. Reading aloud creates positive associations with reading so kids will develop an affection for reading and continue to do it as they grow.
- Creates background knowledge. All children bring information with them to learning. Those with more experiences have greater knowledge of the world. Reading helps build knowledge of things beyond their own homes. Kids who have not been to museums, zoos, the beach, or other experiences benefit from someone reading to them, building more background knowledge.
- Provides a reading role model. Children do what they see adults do. If adults are reading to them, children want to read, too.
- Plants the desire to read. Children want to do things for themselves. Hearing and seeing others read creates the desire for self-reading.
Some personal reflections--
When I moved to the first grade classroom, one teacher friend told me to read to them, a lot. So I did. Sometimes I wondered if I was overdoing it. Sometimes it seemed like an easy fix to fill time or give information about a topic. But after reading this chapter, I feel I may not have done it enough. And I also learned that repeated reading of the same picture book builds vocabulary and creates more permanent learning. We will be reading aloud a lot this next year. And doing more repeated readings.
I saw the value of modeling in two ways in my classroom last year.
- At some point, a book that I read to the group finds its way to the classroom library area. Those books were the ones that were chosen repeatedly by kids when the opportunities arose. They wanted to read the books that I had read to them. And I saw them reading those books (and others) to each other.
- In the school library, the librarian and I were trying to get kids to venture out, away from just rechecking out No, David or Pinkalicious. Nothing wrong with those books but I had readers that were capable of more challenges. I began reading Henry and Mudge. We found all the Henry and Mudge books on the library shelves. And many kids began checking out those books. They wanted to read at home what we had read at school. I will be introducing lots of different books--picture books and beginning chapter books--to inspire reading choices.
Wow. Just wow. Lots of stuff and it's just the first chapter. What insights or reflections did chapter 1 generate for you? Post your ideas in the comments below. Or link up your blog post about this chapter.
Another Q&A post with Jim Trelease will be posted on Prekinders on Wednesday and Chapter 2 will be on Pre-K Pages on Friday.
[[I'll keep adding links to the related posts on this book study page.]]