In this three part series, I will address how to develop a love for reading. I will focus on three types of reading:
- reading aloud to children
- reading and embracing poetry
- independent reading
These encouraging and informational posts will be from my personal experience in homeschooling my three children, my degree in English (which focused on Children’s Literature), and from my many years of reading and love for literature!
Reading aloud to my children is a vital part of our homeschooling curriculum. This provides ample opportunity for bonding as a family and snuggles on the couch! It also lends to exposure to inflections in my voice, new vocabulary, and in turn, increases their attention span. My children can sit for long periods of time when I am reading aloud to them. It amazes me how much they retain from listening to me read to them! They can tell me details such as the plot line and characteristics of the main characters. Over the years that I have been reading to them, I have noticed that they can recall a story that I read aloud to them years ago, and tell me almost the entire story with precise detail! This has always impressed me and further strengthened my belief that a child should be read aloud to at any age.
I mentioned before in a previous post, that I was constantly read to by my mom who highly valued literature and reading. My kindergarten teacher remarked that I was a child who “was read to” because of my vocabulary at a young age. Because the love for reading and for stories was instilled in me as a child, I have enjoyed a lifelong love for reading that is being passed on to my children.
Reading aloud at any age will benefit a child. Many times, my children are more keen to hear a story out loud, than to do independent reading. They love hearing the way I bring the characters to life through voices, pauses in the text, and through emotion in my voice. So often, children are introduced to the classics through a movie instead of the book. If at all possible, always read the book first, for it is far better and more rich than any movie can ever depict. God gave us an amazing gift in giving us an imagination! Let’s use our minds and our imagination to take us on a tale that only we can see in our mind. Illustrations can provide a beautiful depiction of the story, but many classics (like the Chronicles of Narnia) have limited pictures which allows the reader to immerse themselves in the story and use their amazing mind to imagine all that they hear!
Even the most stubborn reading will be captivated by having a book read to them. My son is usually the one who isn’t too thrilled to sit and read, but when I read aloud to him, he is on my lap, with anticipation, awaiting to hear what happens next! I cherish these moments of bonding and sharing the love of reading with my children. What wonderful, warm memories!
It is my belief that a love for reading will develop when a child is read to on a regular basis. There are several statistics about reading to children, which can be found here. It is eye-opening to see the studies of children who are read to in comparison to those who spend more time in front of the television or computer. Check out this infograph from Usborne Books and More:
Resources and Suggestions
Here is the list of books that I am reading to my children this spring:
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
- Billy and Blaze by C. W. Anderson
- Seabird by Holling C. Holling
- Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
A couple weeks ago we started The Magician’s Nephew (book 1 in the Chronicles of Narnia). I am planning on completing the series of 7 books before the baby is due in Mid-July. I am aiming for 2-3 chapters a day, but my kids are enthralled and enchanted by this magical tale that they keep begging me to read more and more! 🙂 Even though this is the 5th or 6th time I have read this book, it never gets old or becomes a chore! These books are filled with such wonder, magic, and adventure and are well loved by many children and adults! I absolutely love the imagery, metaphor, and vivid descriptions in the Chronicles of Narnia. C. S. Lewis was a literary mastermind. I had the privilege of taking a C.S. Lewis class in college as part of my degree in English. It was an incredibly challenging class, where I had to read close to 23 books in one short semester. This may not have been much of a challenge if it was easy reading, but C.S. Lewis books are chock full of insight, intellect, and intention; and layers deep regarding theology, imagery, and allegory.
If you are looking for a place to start with reading aloud to your children, I highly recommend the following books:
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
- Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- The Tale of Peter Rabbit (the complete tales) by Beatrix Potter
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
For younger children, some of the best books come from my experience with the Five In A Row curriculum which emphasizes literature based learning. The very first curriculum I used was Five In A Row and we loved it! I have decided I am going to do Five In A Row Volume 1 and Volume 2 with my youngest daughter when she starts her last year of preschool in the Fall.
Here are a few of our family favorites from Five In A Row:
- The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
- Lentil and Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
- Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
- How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman
- The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
What is your favorite read aloud? How does your family incorporate reading? I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, and questions! 🙂
Part 2: Reading and Embracing Poetry
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