If you plan to have children, if you have children, or if you work with children you should have a copy of this book. You don’t even have to read the whole thing. The chapters are divided clearly to inform the reader of the contents so it can be used as a reference. I’ve read it once and have already flooded it with sticky notes for future reference. I don’t have kids, but after reading The Read-Aloud Handbook, I think I have a better idea of things I want to do with my future offspring.
As I said above, The Read-Aloud Handbook is a reference book that can be read from start to finish, or one section at a time. The chapters themselves are broken down to answer a series of questions (asked of Jim Trelease, by parents and others who were interested. These questions (serve as tools, directing) are used to direct the course of information to areas of greatest concern, as well as covering as much ground possible. Such issues work to answer questions concerning the benefits of reading aloud to children and silent reading, when to start reading to children, how the parents and teachers can help fan the desire to read, and how these simplistic programs compare with the governmental systems that are in effect today.
How many of you were read to as a child? When did it stop? Did your parents enjoy reading for fun? As I pondered these questions I came to the conclusion that being literate is a dying virtue in society.) It is a hobby, but a home where reading is encouraged, books line multiple shelves, and parents and children read frequently is a home where literature is a large part of life. These are also the people who get the most out of reading. I am very grateful to have been raised in a home such as this.
I grew up with books. I don’t remember watching much TV because we only had PBS. We would watch movies but most of the day was spent playing outside, enjoying time with family, and reading. My mom was always reading (or so it seemed to my four year old self) so my brother and I wanted to read too. Being older than me, my brother was able to start reading chapter books earlier. I remember looking longingly at the large books he read with their exciting covers promising fantastic adventures. As silly as it may have seemed to the librarians, I am grateful that my mother let me check out books well above my reading level, simply because I wanted them. I never read them, but never being told I couldn’t convinced my young mind that I could read whatever I wanted.
With that motivation and my own competitive nature, I practiced reading until I could understand those bigger words to tackle my first real chapter book: Redwall. The nightly reading from my father helped as well. The books he chose were much more advanced than what I could read on my own and allowed me to experience the stories that fully caught my attention. Stories like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Lord of the Rings, and The Wizard of Earthsea made reading The Magic Treehouse books much less appealing. All of these things combined with a reading atmosphere at home led me to become the reader that I am today. Unbeknownst to me, The Read-Aloud Handbook has shown me that reading helped me excel in all my other subjects in school.
Reading out loud to our children will help them succeed in life, more so than the expensive toys or programs that the world has to offer ever will. Reading brings families together, enhances the mental capacity of everyone listening, and stimulates the imagination of kids, no matter their age. While the world still looks for a cure to the education problem, I hereby submit to you that the answer has already been staring us in the face: We need to make readers of our children and of ourselves. The answer is so simple that there remains no further reason not to start. I challenge you to make the change. All you have to do is make a little time, open a book and read.