15 October 2008

the magic of the reading bug......

There are several books I turn to for advice on children and reading. Here are a few:

Paul Jennings' "The Reading Bug" is a fantastic resource on how to help children develop a love of reading and of books. His speciality and passion is helping reluctant readers (more often than not, boys). In this book he shares ideas and practical advice on how to infect your child with the Reading Bug. There are book lists to cater for every level of ability and interest in reading.

Then there is Mem Fox's "Reading Magic". I love this woman... the author of so many of our favourite picture books. She is passionate about the benefits of reading to children, and in this book she shares the "Why" and the "how" of reading aloud. It's her belief that reading aloud with children from a very early age, will stimulate their development intellectually and emotionally.

Although the book does not share any references to studies to prove this, my own instincts and experience tells me it is true. I see it in my own children and other children as well.

Mem Fox is a funny, passionate, exuberant person, and listening to her read some of her books out loud was a wonderful experience. I thought I knew a thing or two about reading aloud until I listened to her and heard her ideas during a lecture back in September. On her website you can hear her read as well - there are recordings of her reading as she explains Reading Magic.

One of my favourite parts of "Reading Magic" is Mem Fox's list of

10 Read Aloud Commandments

1. Spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud.

2. Read at least three stories a day: it may be the same story three times. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read.

3. Read aloud with animation. Listen to your own voice and don’t be dull, or flat, or boring. Hang loose and be loud, have fun and laugh a lot.

4. Read with joy and enjoyment: real enjoyment for yourself and great joy for the listeners.

5. Read the stories that the kids love, over and over and over again, and always read in the same ‘tune’ for each book: i.e. with the same intonations on each page, each time.

6. Let children hear lots of language by talking to them constantly about the pictures, or anything else connected to the book; or sing any old song that you can remember; or say nursery rhymes in a bouncy way; or be noisy together doing clapping games.

7. Look for rhyme, rhythm or repetition in books for young children, and make sure the books are really short.

8. Play games with the things that you and the child can see on the page, such as letting kids finish rhymes, and finding the letters that start the child’s name and yours, remembering that it’s never work, it’s always a fabulous game.

9. Never ever teach reading, or get tense around books.

10. Please read aloud every day, mums and dads, because you just love being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do. (Mem Fox, Reading Magic)
Other valuable resources are:
"Honey for a child's heart by Gladys Hunt and
"The read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

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