We are a reading family. One of the first conversations Matt and I had was about a book. You know when you meet someone there's a bit of awkwardness at first. You ask how they are, they ask what you do, you comment on the weather. Then, if you are kindred spirits, you hit a topic that rings true to both of you and the friendship is begun. For Matt and I it was the Chronicles of Narnia. Actually the conversation started because we ended up in the same vehicle while heading to a church service with a group of friends. The van we were in had a video player and someone had the bright idea to watch the infamous "Find Me a Woman" video. If you have no clue what this video is, well, how do I describe it? Let's just say, it was a home video several friends and I did as a joke for a single friend. Needless to say, I had no desire for someone who didn't really know me well to watch that video. So to distract Matt from the video I asked him if he enjoyed reading. The rest, as they say, is history.
And so we read. Before we had children Matt and I read aloud together. The first book I read aloud to Josiah was "The Two Towers". I was nursing him every 2 - 4 hours and so for something to do I would read. I thought why not read aloud? And so I did, he ate, I read. Micah got to hear the Ben Carson story entitled, "Gifted Hands". I don't suppose there is a child alive who doesn't enjoy being read aloud to. It works out nicely that I enjoy reading aloud. That's one reason I love Summer so much. We get to read. Throughout the school year we read aloud, but we usually only have time for 30 mins to an hour 3 or 4 times a week. In the Summer we can read in the morning and then after lunch and again before bed. So far this Summer we have digested several Hardy Boys Books (I confess, Matt reads these and I pretend to listen. The plot lines are a little too predictable for me. Not to mention, I feel so sorry for poor Chet.)
The Indian in the Cupboard
The Return of the Indian
The Sign of the Beaver
The Matchlock Gun
Currently we are reading Ben and Me
Various short stories
Reading aloud is not only a great way to ignite the flames of learning for your children, it boosts their vocabulary. My favorite benefit from reading aloud though, is the bonding that takes place. In our world it's so easy for families to be disconnected. Each individual is doing their own thing, in their own world. Reading aloud puts you in a room together, most likely cuddled up. You are sharing an experience. And if you choose the right books, you have lots of opportunity for discussion. For instance in The Sign of the Beaver, we talked about being teachable, trustworthy and responsible. We talked about making judgements before really knowing a person or situation. Valuable character lessons and opportunity to transfer your values can come from reading good books.
If you don't believe me on the merits of reading aloud, check out the studies done by Jim Trelease. We don't just read aloud because Mr. Trelease says so, but he does give a lot of evidence for the educational benefits. And so I would encourage you to curl up with your kiddos and a good book. It is another tool to building those strong relationships with them that will pay off now and in years to come.