Do you remember being a child and sitting on your parent’s lap or maybe
snuggling in bed with your mom or dad as you listened to a great book? I have wonderful memories of snuggling with my mom as she read books to my sister and me during our childhood. The Pokey Puppy published by Little Golden Books and so many of the I Can Read books, such as Danny and the Dinosaur or Little Bear, were a few of my top favorites. And I’ll never forget the annual reading of The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. I still have my original copies of all these books, and during reading group time I have even shown my first graders my copy of Danny and the Dinosaur. It has my name handwritten in crayon on the inside cover. Snuggling up with my mom and a good book helped me learn to enjoy reading and all the adventures that books can take you on in your lifetime. Being read to as a child may very well be the reason why I’ve always loved reading aloud to my students and also my own children.
Back in the early ‘90’s when I was finishing up my master’s degree in reading, I attended a workshop on reading aloud to children. I won’t ever forget the presenter, Jim Trelease. Before the workshop, I really didn’t know much about him. As an educator, I did know two things… reading aloud to children is important and it can have an amazing impact on children. I learned that Jim Trelease is a captivating speaker who is truly an expert on reading aloud to children, and he spoke passionately about this during the workshop. He made sure that all those in attendance understood that there is NO age limit for reading aloud to kids. “Reading aloud to your child is the magic bullet for creating a lifelong reader.” He wanted everyone to understand that parents (and teachers) should read aloud to children for as long as the children continue to enjoy this special time together with an adult and a good book. This is one reason why I’ve reminded many parents that kids should be read to even when they have become skilled readers themselves.
Jim Trelease is also known as the author of The Read Aloud Handbook, first published in 1982. Now in its 7th edition, I highly recommend the book as it “discusses the benefits, the rewards, and the importance of reading aloud to children of a new generation, including the good and bad news on digital learning.”
During Trelease’s presentation, I can even remember him telling a story about reading to his own children. I believe his son and daughter were about 10 and 12 years old, and he mentioned the book that he was reading to them at the time. I did not know the title, but went right to the library and got a copy of Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. It is by far my most favorite children’s novel to this day. I’ve read it at least 3 times cover to cover and some days you might even find me in a bookstore reading different parts of the book. This past summer, I even purchased it on my Kindle to read with my son, who was entering middle school in the fall.
When I became a mother, I already knew the importance of reading aloud to children from being an educator, and so I began reading to my daughter before she was born. I actually took a copy of Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown with me to Bryn Mawr Hospital, and I started the nightly reading ritual on the day she was born in 1997. I continued to make this one of our bedtime stories when my son. My children would tell you that we’ve had many favorite titles (and series) over the years, such as Ian Falconer’s Olivia the Pig books, David books by David Shannon, Barbara Park‘s Junie B. Jones books, Judy Moody and Stink books by Megan McDonald, and Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Treehouse series. I also continued the tradition from my childhood with my kids, and I still enjoy our Christmas Eve ritual of reading The Night Before Christmas, along with The Polar Express by Christopher van Alsberg. It only takes 15 minutes a night to help your child become a lifelong reader and the time spent with your child truly is... priceless!
So, hopefully I’ve sparked your excitement and made you a big fan of the bedtime story, and if you haven’t started a nightly reading ritual in your house. It’s never too late to begin reading aloud to your child.