I remember reading somewhere that I child can comprehend books read aloud to them that are about five grade levels above their actual reading ability. Well, my twin boys are in JK and can’t read yet, but they have been listening to novels read aloud since they were three and they love it! As a former kindergarten teacher with a special interest in early literacy, reading has been a big part of parenting for me. I started truly reading to my boys when they were 12 weeks old (with them propped up in their bouncy chairs and me sitting in front of them holding up a book) and have never stopped! Of course we love picture books and poetry, but “chapter books” as my boys call them are very special to us. At the end of the day, after we have done baths, teeth, picture books and cuddles, my husband Mike or I sit in a comfy chair in the boys’ room, turn down the lights and read a chapter or two to our boys, snug in their beds. For Mike and I, this is a way to connect with the boys, share something special, impart our love of reading, help improve their vocabulary and build their knowledge of the world and just enjoy some really nice books. The boys look forward to this part of every evening and no matter how overexcited they have been in the previous hours, they always settle down for a novel.
I encourage any parent to read novels aloud to their children from about the age of three. You may have to change the words sometimes (simplify, explain or omit) and you may have to do it in the dark with a tiny reading light to help the kids keep focused the first few times. But I guarantee you and your kids will benefit. Teachers of young children will tell you that one of the biggest indicators of future success in school is whether a child derives enjoyment from reading. And being read a novel aloud is pretty great — in fact I wish someone would do it for me!
Here’s a list of some of the novels we have enjoyed together over the past couple of years (I know I have missed many but these are the ones I can think of!):
- The first 20 or so books from the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne (the boys love these books and have been inspired to learn about space, vikings, knights, ancient Rome and so many other things as a result of reading these books)
- James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (the boys absolutely loved this one!)
- My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
- Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
- Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
- Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (an abridged children’s version)
- Stuart Little by E. B. White
- The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
The boys received many of novels for Christmas so we have lots to look forward to this year and soon my toddler will be old enough to enjoy them too. Can’t wait!
Here’s a drawing one of my sons did of Charlie’s chocolate factory after hearing Roald Dahl’s famous novel. He was so inspired that I really don’t want to show him the movie — I think his imagination is probably more exciting!