Reading aloud helps children communicate
By Jed Gaines
Q. Should I try to read aloud to my daughter even though she is an avid reader?
A. Yes! Even though your daughter is an avid reader who comprehends well, it is still not the same as listening to a good book. Remember that one's listening level is two to five grades higher than one's reading level. Being read to expands vocabulary. It's difficult to read, write, say or understand a word we've never heard. Also, I know from personal experience that reading aloud to an older child creates the environment to communicate. I feel it's so important to get our teenagers to talk more. It clears up many of their questions, even ones they may not have asked.
Q. Do you consider magazines good reading material?
A. Almost anything a child wants to read can have a positive influence. Sometimes it is a magazine or comic book that turns on the "green light," opening the door to reading.
Q. How can I get my 9-year-old to agree that not watching TV is not the end of the world?
A. Remember, children learn best by example. If adults leave the TV off Monday through Thursday, then children will understand that this is not a punishment but family policy. It takes about two to three months to break the addiction if television is totally off during the week. After a period of three months, children are far more amenable to not watching the "idiot box."
Q. My child is learning to read in school and insists on reading aloud to me. When she reads, she pronounces a lot of words wrong and, when I correct her, she wants to stop reading. What do you suggest?
A. If your child insists on reading, listen respectfully and encouragingly. Don't make corrections unless she asks. You certainly don't want to stifle her impulse to read or the pride she feels doing it, even with errors, and the practice is good for her skills. However, I recommend that you continue to read to her about 90 percent of the time, both as a model of good reading and as a way of reinforcing pleasure and comprehension.
For more practical information on how to make reading an integral part of your child's life, don't forget the Read To Me International Foundation's Read-Aloud Conference "Feed Me a Story," at the Hawai'i Convention Center on June 21 and 22. Lynne Waihee, former first lady and founder of Read To Me, has said, "This unique conference should be No. 1 on everyone's list of things to do this summer." For information, call Read To Me International at 955-7600.
Jed Gaines' Read Aloud column is published the first Saturday of the month. For Read Aloud America's 2000-2001 reading list send a (55-cent) stamped, addressed envelope to Jed Gaines at Read Aloud America, 1937 Keeaumoku Street, Honolulu, HI 96822. E-mail questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org