Reading to Children
Some tips on what to do before, during, and after reading a book to your child.
- Read book to yourself. First, you must read the book yourself looking at the cover of the book and deciding how to introduce the story, looking for interesting words or phrases to emphasize (“word tricks”), and deciding how to get the children involved in the story the second time through.
- Read book aloud to yourself. Once you have made your determinations, you will need to read the book aloud ahead of time to see how it goes and how it sounds. If you wait to read it aloud until you are with the children, you may stumble over words and forget to play your word tricks.
- Note funny incidents. For example, if you plan to start with the book Silly Sally (Wood, 1992, San Diego: Harcourt), you instantly notice a funny-looking, orange-haired young woman on the white cover sailing through the air upside down. Yellow flowers (buttercups) are scattered through the air and litter the yellow ground at the base of the cover. As you read through the book you see this same girl walking upside down along a path winding through a yellow buttercup field with a Medieval English town in the background. The rhyming text on the first two open pages tells you that Silly Sally went to town walking backwards, upside down. On the next two pages she meets a silly pig and they dance a jig. Then the two of them go to town dancing backwards, upside down. The story continues with Sally meeting a dog, a loon, and a sheep, and finally falling asleep. They are rescued by the forward-walking Neddy Buttercup, who tickles them all awake and they finally get to town.
- Introduce book to small group. You may decide to introduce the book to a small group or even two children at a time who will sit as close as possible in order to see the pictures and to participate. You begin by showing them the book cover, pointing to and saying the title Silly Sally, and asking them what they think the book will be about. If nobody mentions “upside down,” you should say the words and perhaps ask what would Sally look like if she were “right side up.” Turn the cover upside down so they can see. Then read the book slowly all the way through, playing your “word tricks,” but with no child participation during this first reading.
- Play your word tricks. Your tricks could consist of “dancing” the book when the pig dances, “leaping” the book when the dog plays leapfrog, singing “la-la, la-la” when the loon sings, and snoring when they all fall asleep. When Neddy Buttercup begins his tickling to wake each one, you can reach each child and tickle him. As you might imagine, children love it and will want to have the story repeated.
- Have children join in. Next time through, read the story as you did before, but pause after each animal’s action and have the children join in when you read: “Silly Sally went to town—dancing backwards upside down.” Another time have the children dance, leap, sing, and fall asleep any way they can while seated. Each time you read, hold the book with the cover either right side up or upside down and ask the listeners which way the cover is and which way Sally is.
- Use other word tricks. Using word tricks in other books you read may consist of substituting sounds for the words. For example, do a growling sound for the word “growl,” a banging noise for the word “bang,” or say “ah-choo” instead of “sneeze,” etc. If you can’t think of how to make words sound exciting, ask the children.
© ______ 2005, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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