I read some books aloud to my children when they were little but I do not recall doing it a lot. I wish I had. I didn’t realize how valuable it was to their development and pleasure. Now, don’t get me wrong, I did read to my children but I just didn’t do it on purpose as a daily activity; I read to them sporadically.
I did not realize that children had a listening comprehension. Okay, yes I knew they could understand words that they could not read but didn’t really get it. I thought the big thing was to get them to read and understand the words they read. I knew my children loved to hear a good book read to them and would frequently ask to have me read it again, right after I’d read it to them but did not really get that there could be any benefit in doing that other than enjoyment.
Then I heard about Five In A Row by Steve and Jane Lambert, which is a homeschool curriculum where you read the same easy picture book to your child every day for five days and talk about a different aspect of the book with your child thus giving them “hooks” to remember information they learn. It was during these years that I began to hear about reading aloud to children.
When you read a book aloud to your child you are experiencing new places together. It gives you a conversation starter to talk about situations and behaviors, consequences and rights. It develops a greater vocabulary in your child. AND if you read the right books, it can help develop good morals.
I was amazed at the number of “classic” children’s literature that I had NOT read or had read to me and how wholesome and good they were. For example, I had never read Heidi. I had been exposed to the Shirley Temple movie of it but had never had it read to me. That is a shame! I thought it was just another in a long line of books/movies about a poor little orphan kid and I had a hard time dealing with that kind of situation. But Heidi, by Johanna Spyri, is such a wonderful book, full of God and always making the best of the situation you are in. I am sad to say that I was 40 years old before I found this wonderful book and I had no idea that secular books actually talked about God at one point in history. I did not read this book aloud until my boys were 13 and 11 and Tiffany was 7; unfortunately she did not remember it, so I read it aloud to hear again when she was about 12 and it became one of her favorite books. So much so that when she got a bunny the next year she named it Schneehopli after one of the goats in the book.
I will take a moment here and point out that you have to be careful about different versions of books. I have gotten some from dollar stores and later found that they were not the complete book. You want the UNabridged versions of books, generally speaking. If it seems too long for your child, better to wait until they are older than to have a book that may have some of the good removed. (I wonder who decides what to remove in those abridged versions?)
One time we got an old copy of Heidi from a book seller. My daughter eagerly began reading it and about three chapters in, came out to me complaining that this book is not Heidi. The version of the book I read to them used the German names for the goats, as you may have guessed from the name of Tiffany’s bunny. Unfortunately this copy translated the names. They probably thought it made the names more meaningful, and it does but it was no longer the beloved goats Tiffany fell in love with, so she deems this book as “The Book that Was NOT Heidi.” This changed the feel of the book for Tiffany and she thinks that they may have changed other aspects of the book as well, but we have yet to prove that accusation.
Another truly wonderful book that I had never heard of is A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett. This is another book about a child that becomes an orphan, so I hesitated reading it to my children but since it was highly recommended to me, I went ahead and read it any way. I’m really glad I did! It is such good exposure for the children to see how hard some can have it and yet maintain a good perspective and attitude AND it ends good. (A good ending is a very important part of a good book for me; I don’t need bad endings, that’s probably why I struggle reading John Grisham’s books, i.e. they don’t always turn out the way I like them to.)
The last book I will mention today is about another girl that is an orphan, Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter. One take away from this book is “The Glad Game” where you find something to be glad about, even in disappointment, which is something I wanted my children to emulate after reading this book. It is another book with great perspective.
If you haven’t read any of these books yourself or to your children, take the time to do so. I believe they are all available on Project Gutenburg and are definitely worth reading.
Until next time, God Bless,