For the Love of Language, Books & Reading

Author: Sithara- A reader, not really a writer, Facilitator, Learner at The Integral School, Hyderabad.. this is a topic close to my heart..so adapted and inspired by articles read..and now shared with you..

 

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What is language learning for a young child? It is all about listening, speaking and perhaps listening some more..?..

Parents and caregivers need to talk to their children-but reading to them is important too. In conversations, we tend to use simple language, verbal shorthand, if I may say so. But the language in books is rich, imaginative and a treasure trove of words. A child who has been read to will want to learn to read herself. She will want to do what she sees her parents doing. But if a child never sees anyone pick up a book, she is not going to have that desire. Reading aloud also increases a child’s attention span. When you read aloud, you’re whetting a child’s appetite for reading.

People often say, ‘”My child is in fourth grade and he already knows how to read, why should I read to him?”  “Your child may be reading on a fourth grade level, but what level is he listening at?”

Research says that a child’s reading level does not catch up to his listening level until around 12-13 years. You can and should be reading seventh grade books to fifth grade kids. They will get excited about the plot and this will be a motivation to keep reading. A fifth grader can enjoy a more complicated plot than she can read herself, and reading aloud is really going to hook her, because when you get to chapter books, you’re getting into the real meat of print — there is really complicated, serious stuff going on that kids are ready to hear and understand, even if they cannot read at that level yet.

Another advantage of reading aloud: if you were not a reader yourself growing up, reading to your kids gives you the chance to meet the child you used to be and read the books you never read.:) People say, “Wow! I never read The Secret Garden as a child, and I had no idea what I was missing!”

I’ve had that experience myself, and I was an avid reader as a child, but I mostly read books like The Enid Blyton series. I did not read the classics like The Secret Garden and Robin Hood, or even the delightfully wacky Dr.Seuss Books, so it was great to have the chance to read them with my child.

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Do you think teachers should be reading aloud to kids even in high school?

Most of the material kids read in school, perhaps would not be read for pleasure. And if all your reading is tied to work, you develop a sweat mentality to reading, so by the time you graduate you cannot wait to stop reading. You become a school-time reader, not a life-time reader. Of course, kids have to do a certain amount of reading that’s tied to work, but you do not want kids to forget that there are books out there to make you laugh, make you cry, and move the soul.

But in the present climate of testing and exams, there is so much pressure on teachers that few take the time to read aloud. And that’s a real loss. If kids only experience reading as drudgery, then they are going to avoid it as much as possible. Of course, teachers are busy and have a lot of material to cover, but even if they only devote five minutes a day to the pleasure of reading, at the end of the year when you add those five minutes up, that will be what most kids remember. And if parents can continue reading to their teens at home, it would be a great way to introduce interesting books, magazine articles, great authors etc to the child.

And the good news is that, this piece of parenting wisdom is easy to follow.:) Reading aloud to your child requires only a book and your willingness to spend a little quality time with your child. While the sacrifices to read aloud are few, the benefits are many: Your child may learn to read better, think better, imagine more richly, and become a passionate and lifelong reader. More than these long –term benefits, are some more immediate: the pleasures of spending time with your child and sharing the enjoyment of a good book!

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