Friday, July 24, 2009

Book Reviews - Read Aloud Tips


About every other week I will be posting book review of children's literature. As an elementary school teacher I have had the wonderful opportunity to be exposped to many excellent books for children. I hope my thoughts on some good books will be helpful in your journeys of reading aloud to your children and grandchilren.

"In homes where conversation, questions, and reading are not encouraged, the child eventually enters school markedly short of the basic tools he will need to accomplish his task. He will ask fewer questions, use shorter sentences, and have both smaller vocabulary and a shorter attention span than his advantaged classmates."
"Literature is considered such an important medium because—more that television, more then film, more than art or overhead projectors—literature brings us closest to the human heart."
"When reading aloud the child’s imagination is stimulated, attention span stretched, listening comprehension improved, emotional development nurtured, the reading-writing connection established, and, where they exist, negative attitudes reshaped to positive."
"When is it too late? Is there a time when children are too old to be read to? It is never too late, they are never too old. The desire to read is not born in a child. It is planted—by parents and teachers."
More than helping them to read better, more than exposing them to good writing, more than developing their imagination, when we read to children we are helping them to find themselves and to discover some meaning in the scheme of things."
"Research show us that listening to stories stimulates the imagination significantly more than television or film."

On a personal note: I didn't realize when my children were young that I should continue reading aloud to them even after they could read to themselves. Because there was a gap in years between when I stopped reading aloud to them and when I realized I should still be doing it, they were out of the habit and not as interested. I bribed them with chocolate chip cookies and they still laugh about hiding my read aloud books from me, but all of my children love to read, so don't give up.

BIOGRAPHY: Biographies need to be authentic, not bigger than life, and shouldn't tell untruths. Biographies do not need to be the entire life of the person, but should show the person growing and overcoming weaknesses. Be aware that "formula books" lend themselves to biographies, but these are not good choices for children. Good biographies are the result of many things: the author must do extensive original research; must identify the audience in advance and the writing style should be appropriate for the target audience; biographies must be authentic.

Three biographies I recommend are:

Shep: Our Most Loyal Dog by Sneed B. CollardIII

Brother Eagle, Sister Sky by Susan Jeffers

When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan

Shep is a true story af a dog's loyalty to his master that touched the hearts of people around the world as they heard of his faithful waiting for his owner to return for five years.

Brother Eagle, Sister Sky is an adaptation of a speech give by Chief Seattle or possibly a letter written by him in the mid 1950s. It's message is eloquent and timely.

"How can you buy the sky? Chief Seattle began, How can you own the rain and the wind?" The pictures in this book are lovely and help tell the story.

Author of When Marian Sang is a Newbery Medal winner and one of my favorites. In this book she tells the story of a world famous black singer Marian Anderson's path to the Metropolitan Opera. It is inspiring

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