by Beth Vandersteen
A little spark can start a big fire. And we had a real, live "spark" here in central Louisiana earlier this month [March 2007]. That spark was the recent visit of Jim Trelease to Alexandria! Trelease spoke to teachers, parents, and day care staff about reading aloud to children and the tremendous impact it has on child development and reading success.
Trelease has just published a sixth edition of his classic work, The Read-Aloud Handbook. Studies could be quoted here about how exposure to reading aloud creates connections in the brain that enhance development and the capacity to learn. That is all true, but that is not what this book is about. The Handbook is not about teaching children to read; it's about teaching children to want to read! How? By reading aloud! Very simply put, as little as fifteen minutes of reading aloud to a child each day will instill the foundation for a lifetime of learning and reading enjoyment. And anyone who knows kids will understand - if they want to read, they will find a way to do it!
This book is a must for every parent, teacher, babysitter, and any of baby's family members. It explains how reading aloud awakens children's imaginations and improves language skills. Trelease makes it so simple, and his easy chapters make so much sense! He writes about why to read aloud, about how to read aloud, and then offers his favorite titles to read aloud. Nearly half the book consists of his treasury of 1,000 books that are great for reading aloud, from wordless picture books to novels.
Trelease also addresses the issues and impact of television, Internet, video games, Oprah's Book Club, and Harry Potter.
William Butler Yeats once said, "Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire." Jim Trelease provides that spark and that tinder in The Read-Aloud Handbook. It's available at Rapides Parish Library. Come on, Parents - let's burn it up!
Beth Vandersteen was the Assistant Director of Rapides Parish Library at time this article was originally published.
March 25, 2007