Before the School Bell Rings

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Hope everyone is enjoying swimming and sunshine, mountains and shore, vacations and lazy days this summer. It’s always a shock to turn the page on the calendar and realize there’s just about a month left before those school bells ring. Along with enjoying the pleasures of the season, I’ve begun research for a potential book about reading aloud and the positive effects it offers, especially to struggling readers.

For years, I’ve been convinced that reading aloud offers an amazing array of benefits to both readers and listeners. In fact, read-alouds were a regular part of every class and every grade I ever taught, including graduate students. Whether the goal was to model fluency, introduce an new author, demonstrate story structure, build background knowledge and vocabulary, or simply attempt to settle down a class of unruly teens, I reached for a book. Students loved it!

Naturally, I read to my own kids, but, as I now realize, not nearly enough. If I could turn back time, reading aloud would be part of our everyday routine. Frankly, allowing other inconsequential activities to get in the way of reading aloud more frequently, is one of my biggest regrets as a parent. As Maya Angelou says, “when you know better, you do better”.

All the research strongly supports the varied and powerful effects of parents regularly reading to their children. Not only are the academic effects well documented, but also the emotional ones. It turns out there’s nothing quite like sharing this experience, to build family bonds, create a common experience, and instill a love of reading. Furthermore, this one simple practice impacts not just reading, but the other literacy skills of writing, speaking and listening.

With August making its appearance, it’s the perfect time to ramp up the read-alouds in your home. If you have a struggling reader, this is probably the best thing you can do to prepare him for the upcoming school year. Kids of every age and reading ability love listening, if you are relaxed and make it an enjoyable, special time together. Trust me, I realize that no matter what the season, time is always an issue for parents, but that’s the beauty of reading aloud, especially if you use picture books. Short beautifully illustrated texts that can be found for every age and interest will make this practice a practical one. Are you in?

In my blog posts this month, I’ll offer encouraging research, lay out the benefits of reading aloud and offer practical, helpful tips to establish this routine in your home. I know you won’t regret it, especially when school begins and you realize you’ve done your part to keep reading alive in your home and set your child up for success in the year ahead.

Call to Action: Look around your home or visit the library to find five picture books you thing your child (or children) would enjoy. Find a few quiet minutes to read them to yourself. Pick three favorites and find an opportunity to read them aloud (either to the whole family, a few of your children or just one child). Have fun!

About Rita K.

Educator and Certified Reading specialist
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