A Read Aloud Journal
by Thomas’s mother
I believe one of the most important things I can do for my two-year-old, Thomas, is read aloud to him every day. By sharing stories, rhymes and word fun with him, I’m helping to shape his future in an incredibly positive and caring way. Here’s what happens when we read a book together:
7:12 pm Saturday
I make sure Thomas is comfortable – not hungry, thirsty or over-tired. He’s had dinner and a bath, and soon it will be bedtime. Our favourite place for reading is snuggled together in the big armchair in my study. That feeling of love and closeness makes our read-aloud experience very special. There are no distracting screens turned on, but occasionally we hear quiet music playing from the lounge room. Sometimes we chat first about the cover and what the story might be about. Tonight, Thomas has chosen Possum Magic by Mem Fox.
When I’m reading a picture book aloud, I hold the book where Thomas can see the text while he listens, imagines, and gazes at the pictures. I believe this is an important step in pre-reading. It helps kids make connections between what they hear and the print they see. My comfy lap seems the natural place for Thomas to watch the story unfold.
It’s important to make story time fun. I use all my tricks of voice, facial expression and body language to bring a book to life. Sometimes it’s my turn to choose a book I know and enjoy. I have such fun with it! I love to slow my reading down to build suspense, or make big eyes and a huge smile if we come to a surprise. Because Possum Magic is one of Thomas’s favourites, we’re both practically word perfect!
Thomas knows every part of this story, but he follows the words intently, often patting the animals’ pictures with his finger tips. I don’t stop to ask him questions to make sure he understands, or discuss the story. We might do that some other time. This is reading aloud time, and Thomas is both willing participant and audience.
When we get close to the end, I remember Mem Fox’s own advice about how to finish a story: I make the last line v-e-r-y slow indeed. Thomas knows exactly how we say it, too. He looks at me with the delightful grin that melts my heart, and says, “And she did.” I close the book, and we share a quiet cuddle, both of us dreaming about an invisible possum called Hush.
Because I’ve been reading to Thomas since he was a baby, he knows the bed time read aloud routine. I tuck him under the covers now with an assortment of soft toys, and he settles down to sleep. Nearby, he has some books for early morning “reading”. Thomas is well on the way to being a reader, because he’s learnt many stories by heart. Sometimes I hear him sharing them with Teddy. When I peek into his bedroom, Thomas has the bear on his lap so it can see the text. It makes me proud and happy to know that when he’s a dad, Thomas will share stories with his own kids as a way of lovingly shaping their futures.
(Image Credit: Albert Anker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
***If you’re interested in literacy with under-fives, check out the Share a Story – Shape a Future blog tour this week. Day 2 of the tour focuses squarely on Playing with Literacy – The Toddler Years (ages 2 to 3). Day 1 shared some wonderful ideas for reading to babies, including great gift book suggestions for new parents. You’ll also find more articles about Reading at The Book Chook blog.***