I grew up in a reading home. The librarian of our small elementary school library would order in books especially for “the Campbell children” (although she pronounced it “Camel children” because she talked through her nose). We were a bit nerdy back when computer nerds hadn’t burst on the world and it wasn’t real cool to be one. But we didn’t care. We were too busy enjoying books.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever known another home where you could walk into the living room and seven people would be lounging on the couch or sitting sideways on the easy chair with a foot dangling over the arm rest; everyone oblivious to the world…reading.
My earliest memories are of the sound of my mothers voice reading aloud to me from wonderfully written books rich in lovely words. It turns out that my mother was onto a good thing. Our brains are created to work best by being stimulated auditorily; that is, by hearing! We are made to listen and then visualize what it has heard.
A child who doesn’t love books can be taught the mechanics of writing but he’ll have very little motivation to write. It’s a bit like teaching someone to cook by reading through a cookbook and learning terms like “carmelize” and “saute” without ever allowing the student to nibble and taste their way through a recipe…not a whole lot of fun.
When we introduce our children to wonderful imagery through good literature we are stimulating their minds while we are developing their appetite for words. I’m telling you reading aloud is a superfood for the brain!
And to sound really authoritative studies have shown that the greatest indicator of future success is the love of reading. Not getting a good grade in grammar class or even completing the phonics workbook six months early but the love of reading. And how do we develop a love of reading before our children actually know how? By reading aloud to our children!
I encourage you to regularly read aloud to your children and instead of sending them off to the computer in their free time find audio books for them to listen to instead. Here is a site for FREE audio books online (use with discretion).
So if I seem to be harping on the subject it’s because I have a good reason. Every time you read Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (by Virginia Lee Burton) to your three year old you are laying the foundations for future success.
As you weep with your children over the plight of Ralph in Man of the Family (by Ralph Moody) you might possibly be laying the foundations for a talented writer in your family.
At the very least, you’ll eventually have the blessing of enjoying interesting conversations with your articulate adult children who call you up to tell you excitedly about a good book they want you to read.
And you will be so proud!
While you are waiting with baited breath for Learning to Write is Like Learning the Backstroke Part 3, read aloud to your children and know that you are developing essential language skills as you do so).