If a book makes children laugh, cry, squeal, shiver, or wriggle and jiggle in some way it takes up residence in their hearts and stays there forever. (Mem Fox, 2001).
Colin Thiele, an Australian children’s author, claims he learnt more about reading and writing because his teacher would read aloud to her class on wet days. Roald Dahl, British writer, also claimed that being read to was his happiest memory and that it taught him more about writing than formal English lessons were ever able to. Mem Fox, author of many well-loved children’s picture books says that the best time to start reading aloud to a baby is the day it is born.
Children like their parents to be parents, not teachers. The roles are quite different, and it’s precisely the laid-back, lets’-have-fun, relaxed-and-comfortable role of a parent that is so powerful in helping children first to love reading and then to be able to read by themselves.
Children are curious about written language. They ask many questions about letters, words, and print. Children observe print all around them in everyday life, shop signs (McDonalds), road signs (STOP), their name on their lunch box. Young children see and react to symbols that have meaning to them. When children think of themselves as readers, they become more involved or motivated to decipher words.
Young children like to scribble, write their names, pretend to write words, sentences, stories, lists and invent stories. Exploration and experimentation allows children to try out and perfect their early forms of reading and writing. Children play with print as they play out their real life experiences in which print becomes meaningful for them. They learn how to:
Research clearly indicates that reading aloud to children has enormous benefits for children’s listening, foundational literacy skills and positive attitude to learning to read. It is also clearly evident that the benefits do not disappear as children begin to read for themselves. So… keep on reading!
Mem Fox’s 10 Read Aloud Commandments
(from her book Reading Magic)