Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rereading and Reviewing The Read-Aloud Handbook - Chapter 4: The Dos and Don'ts of Read-Aloud, Part 2

More selected dos from chapter 4, with commentary. Just FYI, I picked out ones that are relevant to reading to littles. If you're reading to older kids, get yourself a copy of The Read-Aloud Handbook for many more great tips.

Before you begin to read, always say the name of the book, the author, and the illustrator--no matter how many times you have read the book.

I did this obediently, if skeptically, and it has paid off in spades, to my great surprise. At 19 months, Jackson recognizes the names of quite a few children's book authors: Eric Carle, Donald Crews, Richard Scarry and more. For example, now when we read Freight Train by Donald Crews, he asks for "Buh...Donna...buh...Donna," which is baby for "School Bus by Donald Crews. Yes, please read me School Bus by Donald Crews as well, thank you kindly." He saw a picture of Eric Carle on the back of The Grouchy Ladybug and thought he looked like a "Poppa" (grandpa) and now he shouts "Cara, Cara" every time we read a Carle book. On behalf of the writers of the world, it's a pleasure to see the kiddo quasi-comprehend authorship, even at this early age!

If you are reading a picture book, make sure the children can see the pictures easily.

The book stand I got at Office Depot has worked out amazingly well. We do a lot of reading aloud at mealtimes, and the bookstand allows me to keep the book front and center for the kid. My hands are mostly free, and the book remains stationary so that the kiddo can really get a good look at the detail of the illustrations. Spending money on anything new is a risk, but the book stand was a good investment.

Fathers should make an extra effort to read to their children. Because the vast majority of primary-school teachers are women, young boys often associated reading with women and schoolwork.

Not sure whether this will be a problem we need to remediate, but I am incredibly grateful to have a husband who is an avid reader-aloud. He actually came to L.A. years ago with dreams of being a voice-over performer so he's quite adept at reading something with dramatic flair that he's never seen before. He's always willing to "Ree ree ree" (read read read) when the kiddo demands it, even if the kiddo only pays attention for two pages. I actually have no valuable commentary on this one, I just wanted to be publicly thankful my husband is so great about this!

When children are watching television, closed-captioning should be activated along with sound. 

I love this advice because it's so unusual. It's not germane to the kid at this point, but I started doing this on Trelease's advice and I love it. Most shows make a great deal more sense if you can read the jokes, background noises and the dialects as they appear on the page rather than strictly in the picture, plus they often include descriptive parentheticals that provide details you wouldn't be able to pick out from just watching. The only downside is that the captions usually give away the punchline of jokes before the actor reads the line!

Add a third dimension to the book whenever possible. For example, have a bowl of blueberries ready to be eaten during or after a reading of Robert McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal.

You could also provide a bear ready to be eaten during or after a reading of Robert McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal, but that might be a bit over the top. (Seriously though, I love this advice and it's the basis of more than one popular homeschool approach, most notably the Five in a Row curriculum that first inspired my theme weeks approach.)

Don't be fooled by awards. Just because a book won an award doesn't guarantee it will make a good-read aloud.

I include this one just so I can link to this awesome list of Worst Caldecott Winners, which delights me in principle and practice. I don't know most of these books, but I will agree that Song of the Swallows is lame. Of course, we'll probably have to choke that one down eventually as part of a quasi-mandatory SoCal field trip to see the swallows return San Juan Capistrano. Hee.

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