If you didn’t know I was a grandma, now you know! And my grandbaby loves books. But I don’t think its just because his parents or I read to him or because he’s surrounded by lots of books. Books in the early years don’t have this much power on their own yet. I believe he loves books because of the warmth, quietness, wonder, and laughter he shares with the person reading to him.
My grandson like all children are cluing us into a special secret: relationships can be built through the act of reading aloud. He knows that when he pulls out a book and puts it in Grandma’s lap, we’ll enter into a special time of bonding that’s exclusive to us alone.
Our exchange looks something like this: He motions or nudges with a book, I respond. I read aloud he mimics. He points to a familiar item, I tap and confirm. He touches and feels, I do the same. He utters, I affirm and build his language softly. We’ve entered into a rhythm that we’ll do over and over with familiar books.
This rhythmic relationship building that I’ve just described happens in the classroom too with teachers, students, and books. It’s called the read aloud and it can be likened to a dance. The teacher invites (nudges) the child in to listen and they come. She reads, they listen and let the words echo in their heads (they will mimic when they read alone). They ask questions and point, she clarifies and confirms. She builds language softly with her words and actions.
The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, the book, and the person reading. It isn’t achieved by the book alone, nor by the child alone, nor by the adult who’s reading aloud- it’s the relationship winding between all three, bringing them together in easy harmony.
Spend some time today inviting your child/student into a dance that will kindle their love of literacy. Read more about the power of read aloud’s in Mem Fox’s Reading Magic Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever.