Sunday, August 09, 2009

Reluctant Readers and Low Vision Students - Reading Aloud is Not Just for Kindergartners

When each of my children learned how to read to themselves, I stopped reading aloud to him or her. You might be nodding in agreement or you might be shaking your head. Neither response is wrong, exactly...and all of my grown children have gone to college...and still love reading. So I don't look back and feel that I short-changed them. And yet...

Yet, I am more and more convinced that the philosophy of reading to your children at a level substantially ahead of their reading level can be a great thing. Here's how it works. When your child learns to read at a first grade level, he can read little first grade readers and maybe some picture books (some picture books are easy to read; others are not). When she can read at a second grade level, she can read second grade readers and maybe little chapter books. Personally, I found that the Boxcar Children and Magic Tree House series of chapter books were interesting and simple enough to get many second or third grade kids to enjoy reading on their own. "Simple" is good when it comes to the child decoding and understanding the words on the page - and delighting in his or her ability to do so. But "simple" isn't everything. It doesn't always stretch the mind and lift the heart, and provide the depth and breadth that we can soak up from really good literature.

Enter the "read-aloud-to-your-children" philosophy...a thing I had mistakenly thought was just for preschoolers and kindergartners. Busy moms might say, "I already don't have time for everything." The beauty of this is that you can read while nursing or sipping a cup of tea. Older siblings can read at their older level of reading. Grandparents can read. And, although the child can't snuggle up to an audiotape (or CD), he can listen to someone who has read and recorded the literature. Listening above the child's own reading level can provide a depth and breadth of literature that can help give him or her a love of reading, a love of learning, and a love of creation.

For children who are still struggling to learn how to read the words on a page, or who may be slowed by issues of low vision or other reading challenges, enter the read-aloud-philosophy. If this is great for the young reader who is reading "on schedule" (whatever that is, and not to worry, half of my children did not, and yet became great readers)...if this is great for the average child learning to read, think how great it can be for the child who has not yet learned to read and the child who is struggling to learn to read.

I do not advocate auditory reading as a substitute for learning to read for oneself. I think everyone should learn how to read, even if the process develops slowly over a number of years, or even if it has to be done with magnification or in Braille, depending on the challenges of any particular student.

The two different processes - listening to someone else read great literature - and learning how to comprehend the written words on a page - can work side by side, not interfering with one another but complementing one another.

Post 3 on Reluctant Readers and Low Vision Students -
Writing What a Child Dictates is Not Just for First Graders

Post 4 on Reluctant Readers and Low Vision Students - Resources

Post 1 on Reluctant Readers and Low Vision Students -
Reading Readiness is Not Just for Preschoolers


max said...

It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys.

I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

My blog, Books for Boys is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading.

Max Elliot Anderson

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Truly wonderful post, MMM!!!!

Well done! It has inspired me to pick up and continue with the read aloud!