Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rereading and Reviewing The Read-Aloud Handbook - Chapter 4: The Dos and Don'ts of Read-Aloud

I do so love a good bullet-pointed list, and this chapter of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook is bullets as far as the eye can see. Whee! Here are some of my favorite read-aloud "do" guidelines from Trelease, along with my helpful commentary.

With infants and toddlers, it is critically important to include in your readings those books that include repetitions; as they mature, add predictable and rhyming books.

My husband thinks repetitive and predictable books are dullsville, but Jackson loves them, of course. There was a period when we were plodding around a variety of literary barnyards for weeks and weeks and weeks, just because the animals said their noises on each page in a predictable and repetitious way, every single time. (The Animals of Farmer Jones and The Very Busy Spider, I'm looking at you.) I've also found that the littles like books that make their parents sing. Sometimes these books are simply illustrated versions of actual songs, like Old MacDonald Had a Farm (we enjoyed this oversize edition from Child's Play), other times they might be something like a particularly sing-songy Sandra Boynton (e.g., Snuggle Puppy), but especially since I'm not much a natural performer, "singing" books are great. P.S. A fellow mom referred me to an audiobook version of Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling, read by Carl Reiner, and even though it's theoretically for much older children, I seems ideal for toddlers because of the constant mellifluous repetition. Last but not least, I love these little finger-puppet books. They make the kids spaz out, and again, they're a great crutch for moms like me who aren't natural performers.

Read as often as you and the child (or students) have time for) and Set aside at least one traditional time a day for a story.

We're good at reading all day long, but I must admit that a traditional bedtime story sometimes gets away from us because I just want to get the dang kid in bed! We read most often at mealtimes (especially lunch), second-most at potty-time, and third-most often at bedtime, thanks in part to the bookcase being right next to the dining table and the four small book baskets in Jackson's room. The book baskets generally contain favorite board books, while the bookcases have most of our larger storybooks and a funkier variety of board books. I've heard tell moms who do bathtime reading, but I've just never figured out what to read in there that would be more fun than "Splashing! Splashing!"

Encourage relatives living far away to record stories on audio cassettes that can be mailed to the child.

Awww, audio cassettes. Isn't he precious? Hee. My in-laws have a weekly Skype call with Jackson's cousin, and grandma L. almost always reads a picture book aloud to cousin K. The practice is, by all accounts, a big hit.

Follow the suggestion of Dr. Caroline Bauer and post a reminder sign by your door: "Don't forget your flood book." Analogous to emergency rations in case of natural disasters, these books should be taken along in the car or even stored like spares in the trunk. A few chapters from "flood" books can be squeezed into traffic jams on the way to the beach or long waits at the doctor's office.

You know who always had a flood book? Rory Gilmore. A quick Google reveals this YouTube compilation that explains it all perfectly. (Hermoine Granger and Lisa Simpson would also be able to demonstrate this for you if you asked.)

As for myself, I've really be meaning to put together a "car library," but I like having all the current favorites in the house! I'm thinking maybe some kind of 500-page anthology would do the trick, but we'll see.

But wait there's more! Come back soon for the rest of the interesting "dos" in this chapter, along with some notable don'ts. To be continued...

What are your favorite read-aloud tips, tricks and "rules"? 

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