February 25, 2011

Reading Picture Books: The Who, What, When, Where, And Why

WHO: Anyone can really. Dad, Mum, Nana, Pop, Uncle, Aunt, Friend, Librarian, Teacher, or Sibling. There's no code of conduct and it's not strictly just for Mum to read before bedtime. Try and switch roles this week and ask someone else to read a story. Visit the library when the librarians are reading to children, or take an interesting book to Nana and Pops to read.

Ask your child to read a story to you. Even if he or she can't read the words yet, they can still look at the pictures and tell you what they think is happening. 

I must admit since our children have been young, I've always been the picture book reader. My husband works long hours and the kids are often in bed when he arrives home. Although this is a lovely routine that I share with my children every night, it doesn't hurt to have Dad read for a change. I still kiss them goodnight and read or tell them a short story. Our kids love it when their Dad reads. He has a different voice, way of reading, and storytelling techniques to me, so this offers a completely unique reading experience.

I recently discovered a, Read Aloud Dad, and I'm so excited that he, along with other Dad's, are providing children with a life long love of reading.

Children love to hear the voices of other family members that they love.

WHAT: Picture books of any style, size, shape, concept, or meaning. Variety is best. Let your child select what they would like you to read. The same book will no doubt be requested over and over again, but that's okay. The delight of knowing what's about to happen in a story can be so exciting and satisfying for a young child!

Sometimes children choose books that are above or below their reading ability. Obviously we want our children to progress but indulging in books of all kinds encourages children to find enjoyment in reading books.

WHEN: It's such a endearing experience to read to your child before bed. But have you ever thought about reading throughout the day? There's so many opportunities to read.
*Waiting for appointments (more exciting than starring at the wall)
*During morning activities
*Riding on a bus
*Transition times
*To settle or redirect behaviour
*Before daytime nap
*Anytime that proves to be beneficial to you and your child.

WHERE: The ideal place to read is some where soft and peaceful like a couch or bed. How exciting would it be to venture out with your child with a great picture book?
Why not try reading:
* On a picnic rug
* In a tent
*At the beach
*At the library
*In a garden
*On a mountain or hill
*Overlooking a view

You might think what's the point if you're still reading a book and looking at the pictures but it's the time before and after sharing the story. I believe the reading environment entices and stimulates the readers on different levels. What you and your child hear, smell, see, and feel whilst sharing a book, encourages conversation and future learning.

Imagine reading a book about dinosaurs while you gaze at a massive T-Rex skeleton, or imagine reading a book about fairies in a beautiful garden.

Play is the perfect time to observe what children are interested in. Your child might find a beetle in the yard and study it for hours. You could make beetle shape sandwiches for lunch and then read a picture book about beetle facts. Right then and there is a fantastic time to read a book while the interest is there. Keep in mind that relating books to experiences can take place over days, weeks, months or years. This demonstrates to a child that books have meaning and we can expand our thinking and imagination by reading a book.

WHY: There's no doubt that reading aloud enhances your child's future reading skills. You can never start too early because even babies love to hear voices and can learn from being read to. This interaction is the foundation of learning to read one day independently.

Because print is so important to reading, the more young children are exposed to books the better. Reading picture books with young children is a beautiful way to spark imagination and creative thinking skills.

I remember reading about a parent that wasn't sure how to read aloud to their child. You may think this is odd, but when you read a magazine or read a newspaper, do you read it aloud? Some people may have never read aloud. The voice is such a powerful instrument that can express feelings based on pitch, volume, and speed. When we read a picture book we can use our voice to create an emotion and leave a powerful message. Try changing your voice and adapt some different character voices. We don't have to be over-expressive, just interesting.

A pause can often deliver more in a picture book ----------than any word can. It's also really nice to pause for a few seconds before turning the page so that you can both admire the illustrations and discuss anything. I also read recently how powerful it is to read the last line slowly. Just like eating that last spoonful of chocolate mousse and savouring the moment-words can be delicious!

Lastly, reading is meant to be enjoyed, so have fun! Play reading games, sing silly songs and rhymes, incorporate drawing, cooking, and playing into your reading experiences.
There's no rush. Developing a positive attitude to books and learning to read takes time and it's a journey not a destination.


BookChook said...

What a superb, comprehensive explanation of picture book read-alouds!

Unknown said...

Thanks Book Chook. There's so many opportunities with picture books.

Alison Sampson said...

Good to mention that drawing out of the last line, and the use of pauses. Lately we've been listening to Robert Munsch read his stories on line, and it's very inspiring to hear how he really lingers on a particular word or phrase - wonderful stuff!

Unknown said...

Thanks Alison for your comment. I'll look him up. Reading aloud is such a powerful experience.