This is an extension of my previous post, ‘Read to your kids.’ In my Children’s Lit. class, we have been reading from Jim Trelease’s book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook.” I would recommend it to anyone (especially parents and teachers). It’s a fun read because it’s persuasive rather than just informative. In this book, Trelease discusses the many benefits your kids could have from being read to, including quite a few academic advantages.
You know how there are all these programs to take care of homeless and elderly, bring medicine to third world countries, feed the hungry, educate our youth, etc.? I think it would be great if there was a program in place to enhance the linguistic capabilities of our youth, by having read-aloud sessions by skilled performers; people who are funny and engaging.
Every time I read this book I have this kind of vision in my mind- a crowd of little kids sitting on the floor with a reader at the front of the room, a kind of guy who makes people laugh just by looking at them. He holds up the featured picture book and solemnly announces, “One fish,” in that way that kids can’t help but laugh at. He continues, with melodramatic influctuations. “Two fish. Red fish– this book is so beautiful. Blue fish– oh say it again! Everybody now…” And then the guy proceeds to beatbox, and then get out of his chair and dance as he repeats that first page, while the kids are rolling on the floor dying of laughter.
Okay, so maybe I have a bit of an active imagination.
But my point is the same point that Jim Trelease makes in his book; kids need to learn to associate reading with pleasure. The problem in our country is not illiteracy, but aliteracy. People know how to read, but they chose not to. They haven’t learned to find reading pleasurable, possibly because their encounters with reading in school have all proved to be negative. Reading becomes much less fun when you have stop in order to write the definitions to that unit’s vocabulary terms, you know what I mean? But when we can help people understand that reading can be fun– that’s when we build people up to be life-long readers.
Somebody has to read to these kids if their parents don’t. I just think it would be fun if it were done by performers, and I mean professionals. By people who will read… outside the box, so to speak. I mean, who says you have to sit in a chair the whole time while you’re reading to the kids? What if you got so excited you stood up from your chair so you could act out some of the scenes. I think there should be physical comedy, facial expressions, sound effects, comedic timing, accents, all those things that people enjoy. And I think it could be really great if we could figure out a way to get that to a bunch of people, to a bunch of kids. Especially those who are perhaps struggling with school.
I’m no expert. Not in reading to kids, not in starting up programs to enhance literacy among kids, but I think it would be great if somebody with more expertise could make it happen.