Saturday, March 31, 2012

Rereading and Reviewing The Read-Aloud Handbook - Chapter 7: The Print Climate in the Home, School and Library

Chapter 7 of The Read-Aloud Handbook is about "the print climate" at home, and at the end of the day, it's the reason I collect children's books so passionately. It's also the reason I love Jen's latest post about setting up a reading nook for your kids! And why I'm always drawn back to Read-Aloud Dad's post about the "benefits" of boredom.

This chapter convinced me that one of the greatest gifts I can give my kid is "books on hand." For all those hours of the day when nothing is scheduled, let the default entertainment be a book. (There are disadvantages to this plan, however: A major source of disarray in this house is books scattered everywhere all the time. Oh well.)

Anyway, in this chapter, Trelease outlines the ways that living in a book oasis or a book desert effects the intellectual nourishment or starvation of entire populations and certainly specific children. He writes, "The last two decades of research...unmistakably connect access to print with high reading scores and, conversely, lack of access with lower scores."

And here's a quote from literacy activist David Mazor that hits home with me every time: "I live in this community [Amherst, Mass.] where we have all these books that no one's read since junior was in fourth grade. So out they go to the yard sale go the books on a weekend. If nobody buys them, they get thrown out. It's like having all these oil wells in your backyard. 'What a nuisance! How are we going to get rid of all this excess oil?' Books in affluent homes don't get reread or worn out." I find this to be so very true. I come across the most amazing books in the most amazing condition, and they are invariably inscribed with gift dedications to little children from doting aunties or grandmas. The book lay fallow and unread for five or so years, and then was quietly sent to Goodwill. These books are in virtually new condition and at $1 each, I wouldn't dream of passing them up. Trash to treasure and all that.

The most important section of this chapter, however, is the rain-gutter bookshelves suggestion. Basically: Display books with the covers out, which appeals to kids much more strongly than barely readable spines. Pinterest exists to show you a million fantastic examples of rain-gutter bookshelves or the trendy new Ikea-spice-rack bookshelves alternative. The spice-rack thing is totally on my list for next time I hit the labrynthine nightmare that is Ikea, but I'm not braving that store just for spice racks!

1 comment:

  1. That's for the shout out! :)

    I think part of the problem with home libraries for children is that parents don't know how to organize them properly. In credentialing school, teachers are taught that children find ordinary bookshelves to be overwhelming. There are simply too many choices, and kids don't know where to get started.

    But if you can organize books in tubs so that a child can see that all of the books about sports are here, and all of the books about Science are there, then that makes things more manageable.