by Susan Stephenson, of The Book Chook
As a single mother, with a full-time teaching job, I was often exhausted after a day at school. However, my four-year-old son knew that storytime came before bedtime, and he demanded his books if ever I suggested skipping them. I’d like to think I was devoted to being a good parent, but the truth is, I was mostly too tired to argue.
Because I was tired, and because I believed so strongly in his being able to see the words I read aloud, we would often lie on my bed for our stories. I’d hold the book between us, and struggle to keep my eyes open, while I read with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.
One night, after teaching kids to play tunnel ball that afternoon, my arms were limp spaghetti. I passed the book to Tim, fresh-as-a-daisy after his nap at the babysitters, and asked him to hold it. He took it from me, and began to read aloud from the page.
I stared at him, dropped-jawed and bug-eyed, “Why didn’t you tell me you could read?”
“But you always hold the book,” he said. To Tim, he’d now taken on the holding role, and the reading just came naturally.
I never set out to teach my son to read. Trust me, I didn’t have time! I did set out to surround him with books, share my love of reading, point out the delight and humor of language, and read aloud to him every single day of his life. I amuse myself by thinking that Tim learned to read almost by osmosis – the building blocks of reading were there and one day, with no fanfare or announcement, he began to read.
Not every child learns to read that way. Some kids struggle with the reading process. But I’ve yet to hear of daily story time doing any harm. Developing the reading aloud habit can have many other benefits. It’s an opportunity for one-on-one quiet time between people who love each other. It helps create winding down and a ready-for-sleep habit. It can be just good old-fashioned fun and enjoyment. It also leads to opportunities for discussion and reflection, not as readily available in faster-paced entertainment.
And if you’re tired, and really don’t feel like reading aloud, encourage your child to hold the book – you never know where that might lead!
The Book Chook (chook is hen in Aussie speak) is a former kindergarten teacher whose also known as Susan Stephenson. She is a writer, editor and reviewer. You’ll find more information about Susan here. Be sure to visit her blog, The Book Chook! Thank you, Book Chook for contributing to Imagination Soup. We love you!