One day in K4, a mom was serving as a “guest reader” in our classroom. She brought some books from her daughter's favorite books from home. One of the books was Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann. The mom asked if her daughter could “read” that book to the class. Wow! I was totally amazed. My K4 friend was delighted as she turned the pages of the book, “reading” to her classmates about a girl whose skin color changed because she ate too many pink cupcakes. The K4 students were enraptured as she “read” about how Pinkalicioius, the main character, tried to fix her pink skin but continued to yield to the temptation of eating more delicious pink cupcakes. The K4 reader's voice giggled with glee at the doctor's remedy to eat green veggies. My reading friend was a pro as she showed all of her K4 buddies the pages of the book. Everyone was astonished at the surprise ending of the book; you will have to read this for yourself to find our how the story ends!
So did my K4 student really read this book to her friends? Yes and no. While she did not “read” the book word for word, she had the story read to her so many times that she had the story memorized and was able to retell the story to her friends. That was a mommy who understood the importance of reading to her child.
Some of my fondest memories with my own children involve bringing them on my lap or sharing their bed and reading them books. Having four children of my own, each child had a book that was his or her favorite. Each would choose that book to be read to him or her every day. It was always fun to make the characters come alive in the story, even it if was a hungry caterpillar or a fire truck. Sometimes I would skip words or pages, and they always would say, “Mommy, you skipped that part!”
The bonding that comes from reading with our children is just an added bonus. But in all of our business, I think that sometimes we don’t make time to read to our children, and we are really missing out on great opportunity of spending quality time with our children while enhancing their academic mind.
What’s a busy parent to do?
I can surely appreciate being busy and the difficulty of finding the time to read to your children. However, as parents, you must be intentional to carve out that time in your day to make this a priority. The most obvious time is bed time, when the day is winding down. Just find a time that will work in your schedule. It’s always fun to be creative, so maybe take a blanket and have a reading “pow-wow” in the back yard. Make a fort using the dining room table and use a flashlight to read. Keep books in the car to read if you are waiting on another sibling.
What to read?
Absolutely anything! Find books that will interest your child. Read books to them that were your favorite as a child. Take a trip with them to the school or local library and help them pick out some books. Younger children love rhyming books; Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss will always be kids' favorites. Take advantage of all kinds of print. Kid magazines, newspapers, and apps with stories are great!!! As your child grows, find a series that they enjoy. My children loved to try and collect all of the books in a series such as The Boxcar Children and The Magic Tree House books.
The Benefits of Reading Aloud to your Child
- Reading aloud will build their vocabulary. When I am reading aloud to the four year olds and come across a word that I am uncertain that they know, we stop and talk about what it could possibly mean. Just today when reading a story, the word "miserable" came into the story. As a class, we looked at the picture and studied the context clues to determine the meaning.
- Reading to kids helps them with language and speech development. With older kids, it will also help them understand correct sentence structure and grammar.
- Reading aloud will help children build better imaginations. After reading a story, the readers can be encouraged to use the plot and character to build on their own creative play.
- Reading aloud with your children will help increase their attention span. Think about it: your child is practicing being still and using the listening skills that are so necessary in everyday life.
- Reading aloud with your children also provides for some great discussion of good and poor choices made throughout the story. In the K4 world, The Little Red Hen always brings strong discussion. Was the Hen right when she didn’t share her bread with her fellow non-helpers? Use this opportunity as a natural teachable moment to lean into what would Jesus want me to do in that situation. This is a way to impart a correct Christian world view and right way of thinking.
How long do I keep reading with my child?
Even after your children can read on their own, keep reading to them. Research says that a child’s reading level and listening level doesn’t catch up until about the eighth grade. These are great opportunities to spend with your child and discuss more difficult plots and themes. I have enjoyed reading with my own children even as they get older. I find myself reading ahead because I can’t wait to see what will happen next.☺
In closing, I think we all agree that reading with our children will make more successful students. Hopefully it will give students that love to read for themselves. As a parent, it is a wonderful way to spend some quality time with our children that can open opportunities to have wonderful discussions.
So go on and read, read, read!!!!
Missy Green is a K4 teacher at Lakeland Christian School. You can reach her by firstname.lastname@example.org.
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