“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” ~ Emilie Buchwald
I ran across this little quote recently. I love it! It really is so true. My husband and I read to the kids every night without fail. I majored in English in college and recognize what great literature can do for our minds. So I knew that when I had kids, I always wanted books to be a big part of our lives. I started reading to William when he was 4 months old. My hands were a little full when Lucas came along (with a 3yo with SPD and a deployed husband), so our nightly reading with him didn’t start until he was 6 months old.
I’m seeing the effects of all this reading pay off. William is a fairly advanced reader, speller, and writer. I attribute his success in this area to all the reading we do. I’ll read fairly advanced books to him while lying next to him in his bed, and he’ll follow along with me, reading over my shoulder. I find this to be so much more beneficial than having him read to himself. As he reads along with me, he can hear how words are correctly pronounced and how the inflection of my voice changes with various punctuation marks and as the book flows from one element to the next.
I remember reading along in a book in a high school English class and learning the pronunciation of the word “facade.” A classmate had read the word, and I was following along, so I learned how it was pronounced. Having read the book to myself at home, I never would have guessed that the word is pronounced as it is.
William is also gaining a great vocabulary from all of our reading. He received the Fablehaven books for Christmas, and at first, I wasn’t sure what to think of them. I was worried they would be too violent or mindless twaddle. But we started reading, and we love it! He likes the story line and the fact that a young boy is one of the main characters. I like the story line as well, but what I love most is the rich vocabulary! I read a sentence the other day that had several multi-syllabic words. It took me a minute to read and process the sentence.
Here’s a sentence from the book that gives you an idea: “But if I lose the protections afforded by the treaty, the consequences of my vulnerability would inevitably follow,” (Fablehaven, p. 278). Try saying that five times fast!
William won’t always ask me what the words mean, and that’s fine. Just exposing him to this rich vocabulary is what’s important to me. After he hears and sees a word for the third or fourth time, it will start to register. And again, me reading it to him is different from him reading it to himself. If he were reading it himself, he might stumble on the words. In fact, I wouldn’t even have him read a book at this level. It’s quite advanced. So since I read to him, he’s “reading” a level that is far above his own reading level.
My husband typically reads picture books to Lucas, and I was just saying to him the other day that I think he’s ready for chapter books. Lucas seems to have caught the reading bug, too. When we read chapter books for school, he has no trouble following along, and sometimes he’s more capable of giving me a narration (describing what happened in our reading) than William. I think I’ll recommend that they start on classic chapter books like Boxcar Children, Indian in the Cupboard, and Cricket in Times Square. Masterpiece by Elizabeth Broach is also a good one.
So if you haven’t started reading to your child on a regular basis, there’s no time like the present! And as you can see, it’s beneficial to read to a child long after he has begun reading to himself. Head to the library and grab a few books that catch your eye and get started. If you’re looking for more great titles, feel free to connect with me on Goodreads. You’ll see all the books that I’ve read and recommend (for myself and the kids).