Internationally renowned literacy expert and children’s book author Mem Fox says in her book “Reading Magic,” “The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading. It isn’t achieved by the book alone, nor by the child alone, nor by the adult who’s reading aloud – it’s the relationship winding between all three, bring them together in easy harmony.”
When we read aloud to children we are not specifically teaching them how to read, but instilling in them a love of reading and books. Each book we read aloud enriches the path the child takes toward eventually reading on his or her own.
Three and four-year-olds who have had daily experiences with books in their young lives will start making the connection between the letters on the page and the sounds they represent, then the words printed in a book and what is read aloud. They will see that the illustrations also tell the story.
At some point children will begin to recognize some words and be able to recite a favorite book from memory. They will start to anticipate what happens next in a story and join in as you say a repeated phrase in the book. All of the ways a child enjoys books and stories now will give the child the confidence to want to learn to read, and will become strategies the child will use later on to read books independently.
Preschoolers enjoy stories that have suspense and resolution, humor and emotion. Try reading books that require more complex thinking, such as the following titles:
“The Three Little Javelinas” by Susan Lowell, illustrated by Jim Harris, is a retelling of the classic three little pigs story with spicy, southwestern vocabulary. This is a non-violent (no one gets eaten!) and humorous version of an old favorite.
“Francis the Scaredy Cat” by Ed Boxall. The darkness and strange sounds of the night are just the beginning of the not-too-scary things that worry Francis the cat. Your pre-schooler may have some of the same concerns and will be comforted by how it all works out for Francis.
“When the Moon Fell Down” by Linda Smith and Kathryn Brown is a night-time adventure. What would happen if the moon saw the world from the point of view of a friendly cow? The rhyming text tells the story in a melodic waltz accompanied by soft watercolor illustrations.
Create your own literacy sparks by reading aloud to your child. For more information about author Mem Fox, visit her website at http://www.memfox.com. Happy family reading!