Jul 7, 2020
Research shows that reading aloud to children of all ages makes a difference in their lives.
Books recommended for parents and teachers:
Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake Up Story Time and Get Kids Talking about What They See
by Megan Dowd Lambert
Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook: Eighth Edition
by Jim Trelease, Cyndi Giorgis
The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids
by Sarah Mackenzie
Honey for a Child's Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life
by Gladys Hunt
Quotes from the books shared in the class:
“As a reader, a mother, and a teacher, I know that we carry picture books about with us, not just as physical objects in our hands with pages that we turn, but as remembered experiences with stories and art, and with each other. I pick up a single picture book, and I recall not only the specific story and art on its pages but also the myriad insights that it provoked through Whole Book Approach readings that invited children to read words, pictures, and design along with me.” (Lambert, xii)
“During Whole Book Approach story times, children’s active participation in making meaning of all they see and hear during a picture book reading takes precedence over moving through the pages at the pace of the adult’s oral reading of the text…the Whole Book Approach simply stresses inviting children to react to the whole book—its art, design, production, paratextual and textual elements—in ways that feel natural and enriching to them and to you as the adult reader.” (Lambert, x)
“Children can read pictures.” (dePaola, SCBWI Masterclass)
"...in fact, a truly great picture book could be wordless. So the pictures actually move the story along and move the narrative along…Once the child has had the story read to them, they can remember the story just by looking at the pictures.” (dePaola, SCBWI Masterclass)
“A good book is a magic gateway into a wider world of wonder, beauty, delight, and adventure. Books are experiences that make us grow, that add something to our inner stature.” (Hunt, p.
“I am frankly excited by the potential of books to build a whole, healthy, spiritually alert child who has the capacity to enjoy all the possibilities of life.” (Hunt, p.
“Whenever I’m asked, ‘Why should I read aloud to my child or my students.’ (regardless of the child’s age), it provides me with an opportunity to share why reading aloud is so important, for both reader and listener. The educational values of reading aloud are well documented: introducing vocabulary, modeling fluency, demonstrating expressive reading, developing comprehension, and assisting children in making connections. There is also the personal value of listening to a book read aloud. That experience may generate vivid memories of a story associated with a person, time, or place—a memory often remaining with us for years.” (Trelease, p. 7)
“We read to children for all the same reasons we talk with them: to reassure, to entertain, to bond, to inform or explain, to arouse curiosity, and to inspire. But in reading aloud, we also build vocabulary, condition the child’s brain to associate reading with pleasure, create background knowledge, provide a reading role model, and instill the desire to read.” (Trelease, p. 14)
“Happily ever after is hardly a myth for those who believe in the promise of eternal joy in heaven.” (McKenzie, p. 96)
“If we tell them enough stories, they will have encountered hard questions and practiced living through so many trials, hardships, and unexpected situations that, God willing, they will have what they need to become the heroes of their own stories.” (McKenzie, p. 92)
“[Story] has been the vehicle for truth for as long as the human race can remember.” (Katherine Paterson quoted by McKenzie, p. 93)
“Reading aloud with our kids is indeed the best use of our time and energy as parents. It’s more important that just about anything else we can do.” (McKenzie, p. 56)
One of my favorite storytellers:
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Other books mentioned in this episode:
Welcome to parental guidance requested from books that spark. These 12 mini-lessons are based on a workshop I offer for parents and teachers who want to make Storytime and discipleship come alive for their children. Today, we will be discussing creative ways to use picture books with your children.
I want to discuss ways to read books with your children that will give variety and opportunities for learning together. We will be looking at a few important books that you may want to read that are about reading with your children. One is Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See by Megan Lambert. Another is Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook: Eighth Edition by Jim Trelease and Cyndi Giorgis. In addition, the third one is The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids by Sarah McKenzie. Finally, Honey For a Child's Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life by Gladys Hunt. These four books all bring different information to the table. They also have excellent information on how to make the most out of our reading time and why it is so important to have a read-aloud time with our kids.
In Reading Picture Books with Children, Lambert discusses, several ways we can approach sharing a picture book. She calls it the whole book approach. In addition, Lambert says as a reader, a mother, and a teacher I know that we carry picture books about with us. They are not just as physical objects in our hands with pages that we turn. They are as remembered experiences with stories and art and with each other. I pick up a single picture book, and I recall not only the specific story and art on its pages. I also recall the myriad insights that it provoked through whole book approach readings that invited children to read words, pictures, and design along with me. She points out that picture books are works of art. She treats the whole picture book as a work of art. In addition, she respects the illustrator and the writer equally, which we should do when we are talking about picture books especially. We should begin by asking children to think with their eyes.
She says during the Whole Book Approach story times, children's active participation in making meaning of all they see and hear during picture book reading will take precedence. It will take precedence over moving through the pages at the pace of the adults’ oral reading of the text. The whole book approach simply stresses inviting children to react to the whole book, its art, design production, peritextual and textual elements. This is done in ways that feel natural and enriching to them and you as the adult reader. So I love this book, it opens up the whole notion of relishing, every part of a picture book, and enjoying it with our children. Moreover, she goes through in the chapters of her book in different ways. She takes it apart and deals with the different parts of the picture book and how we can look at each part as significant and able to give us more information to make the picture book a richer experience.
Therefore, when we start to read, we should stop and have a conversation about the book. This should be done before we begin reading. As a teacher, we usually do that to access prior knowledge. This is so that the child will connect with the lesson before we begin the teaching part of the lesson. They take ownership of the lesson, they are invested, and they are interested. Well, we do the same thing with picture books when we stop and we look at the cover, we look at the illustrations, we talk about who wrote it and who illustrated it. Then we bring the child into the experience from the very beginning. With picture books, we start with the cover. Picture books are one of those situations where we do judge a book by its cover. Pictures are just as much a part of the story as the words are in picture books and sometimes they're even more so a part of the story than the words. I have an old book called It's My Birthday by Heidi Geonnel that has 117 words in the entire book.
In addition, there is another by Tomie dePaola called The Knight and The Dragon that has quite a few pages throughout the story with no words at all. Moreover, Tomie dePaola said in a class once, children can read pictures. We know that we all learn to read pictures before we learned to read words. In addition, sometimes children will read something that we may miss because we are not in the habit of reading pictures as much as we did when we were young. So starting with the art will not only help the child to begin reading and understanding the story. It will also help the child to have an appreciation for art, and to develop a critical discerning eye and to be able to start reasoning. What is the story about? What is the emotion of this story? Is it scary? Is it happy? We can tell all of that from the cover art on a book.
We may even ask them what might come next as we are looking at different pictures and why something is in a picture and when we look at the cover art on a picture book, Lambert makes it very clear. We want to look at the whole cover the front, the back, and the spine. Sometimes the cover in its entirety is one big picture, one continuous picture. Sometimes it gives us very important information about the story. Therefore, we want to start there with picture books, and look at the front, look at the back, look at the spine and look inside the jacket. This is because sometimes even inside the jacket will be pictures that we need to look at to start the story reading process. Therefore, as we take time to start with the cover of a picture book, we are developing so much in our child's mind, and because the illustrators have taken the time to create these pictures. They have usually created important details. We do not want to skim over as we look at the book and start reading. Sometimes a side story may be happening in the pictures that do not have anything to do with the text and it adds this fun and this wonder to the reading of the book.
A really fun part of reading the book is seeing this little side story that is going on just in the illustrations. In addition, those illustrations often will begin with the cover or with the jacket. When we take time to look at the book as a whole, we are not dissecting it as we would a frog in science class, just assembling the parts and looking at each part, examining it. Rather we are adding to the experience of the book as a whole work of art. Moreover, we are enriching the experience for our child. Tommy dePaola said, in fact, a truly great picture book could be wordless. Therefore, the pictures actually move the story along and move the narrative along. Once a child has had the story read to them, they can remember the story just by looking at the pictures. In addition, I just love that he puts such importance on the words as much as the pictures and the illustrations in the story. We start with the cover. Who wrote it, who illustrated it? We see who else has contributed to the book. Maybe there is an introduction or a comment. How has the lettering on the cover contribute to the feeling of the story? Next, we look at the book jacket, if they have one. The original plan or original art artistic plan for the book is in that first hardcover copy of the book. There was one jacket for a book that I know of that was a poster to hang on the child's wall.
So sometimes, it is really somewhat important that we try if possible to get that original hardcover book. This is because it has the original plan that the artist had for the book. Sometimes the jacket has extra pictures, as I said, on the inside, as well as the outside. It is like a little treasure hunt with your child as you examine the cover, the jacket, and the endpapers too. For example, Lambert discusses in her book. This book called Hush Little Baby, which is based on the old song by the same name. You will see on the jacket in the endpapers of the book, the whole gist of the story. In addition, she is a college professor and she said she had a student write a disastrous essay on the book because she missed the part of the story on the jacket and endpapers. Therefore, she misinterpreted the whole story.
So sometimes, it is vital to understanding the story and enjoying the story to look at the jacket, the cover, and the endpapers. Sometimes the endpapers just add color, they carry that color throughout the book, and it helps bring your eye to certain things in the pictures that you want to notice. Another observation Lambert suggests is to guess why the picture book is in a portrait or landscape orientation. How does that add to the story? It is interesting to consider that most journey stories are in landscape orientation. Think about Polar Express and books that need a taller orientation like Madeline with the Eiffel tower in the picture needs that portrait orientation. It is interesting, one of my favorite books is called Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say, and it is portrait orientation, even though it is about a journey and I thought, well, why is that.
It made me stop and think they have the boat motif through the whole book. Yet the book is not in landscape orientation. I think it is because the story is about being in each place within the story. It is the experience of being a third culture kid. Therefore, it is not so much about the journey back and forth on the boat. However, it is about the journey that he experiences internally as he struggles to find his place and know what is truly home. Moreover, that is more the point of the story than the actual traveling. Therefore, I think that is why it has a portrait orientation. The other thing that is cool about Lambert's book is she gives us questions to ask in an appendix to her book. She calls it thinking with our eyes, and some of the questions are for us as parents and teachers, and some are for the children.
One of my favorite questions she includes is to ask as you have looked at the cover jacket and endpapers. What questions do you have after looking at these pictures? What a great question to ask our kids. What questions do they have after looking at this? Remember whatever questions you ask, you want open-ended questions so that the children will interact more so you can spark conversations with your kids. Then another great question she suggests is what is it that you learn about yourself as a reader and as a thinker when you reflect on your Story time experiences. In addition, we can ask ourselves that we can ask our kids that, what you learn about yourself as we finish reading this book. What did it teach you about yourself? Because picture books have universal themes and experiences, we can all relate. It helps us to relate to the story in some way but also helps us understand our own experiences in life even more.
Then another important point she makes is that we sometimes ask questions while we are reading to children, but we have a preconceived answer we want or expect from the child. When we use the whole book approach, we do not have an expected answer, but we allow the child to think about the question and we may be surprised by their answers. She said many times she's been surprised by the child's answer and they have thought of things she would have never thought about and she has learned from them. Therefore, we do not want to miss those wonderful opportunities. When our child may see something that we missed and help us to grasp even more of the story and make it an even richer experience for us as well. There are many ways that we can read a book to children.
We may tell the story a very animated way. Sometimes if we know the story very well, we almost move from reading to just telling you the story like a true storyteller would with voices and animation interaction with our audience. Moreover, this is truly fun and theatrical and is a wonderful experience for our kids. I will post a few YouTube videos in the show notes for you. This will be on storytelling. It will also be on how this art form can be mastered. You may not want to become a great storyteller, but we can gain some great pointers just from watching these videos and learning how to tell a more animated story. Therefore, I will post those in the show notes. Other times we have something that comes up in the middle of the story that we need to talk about. Therefore, we stopped to ask questions and take time for discussion and thinking, and some think, well, that is going to ruin the story because we are stopping right in the middle, but it really does not.
It enriches the experience. Whatever we do, we need to take the time to relish the books and the precious time we have with our kids. I encourage you to read aloud with your kids, whatever their age is. Our culture tries to make our kids grow up so fast and by reading books together, we can help them enjoy their childhood longer. My four kids are technically adults now, and I read picture books to them. When I find one, I just have to share. They seem to enjoy it just as much as they did when they were little. We do have more grownup discussions about it. We also take the time to read aloud together by reading other books together. We read a chapter or a section of a book and go through a book together as a family and it has been such a wonderful time. Also, in a time of enrichment, a time of sharing, a time when even though they are grown and getting their own lives we have that moment together.
Whether you do a devotional time with your family together, or just reading another book together, we usually combine the two and we read a Christian book together about living the Christian life and bring in the scripture to that and that's what our time together usually is. It is not always easy. We have many scheduling issues now that they are grown with their job schedules and school schedules and everything else, but those times are awesome. I do not care what age your child is. Reading aloud together, whether they are reading aloud to you or you are reading aloud to them is a precious time and cherishes it as much as you can. So sometimes when we are reading together, it is a performance and sometimes it is a co-constructive Story time with education and critical thinking. Also, maybe we have them acknowledge the foreshadowing by having them try to guess what comes next.
However, it is that we read a book together. We want it to be an experience. In addition, Gladys Hunt says in Honey for a Child's Heart, a good book is a magic gateway into a wider world of wonder, beauty, delight, and adventure. Books are experiences that make us grow. That adds something to our inner stature. She also says I am frankly excited by the potential of books to build a completely healthy, spiritually alert child who can enjoy all the possibilities of life. The book Honey for a Child's Heart gives the parents so many ideas for books from a child's early years to books to read, as they grow older. It is an excellent read and an excellent resource. Hunt shares such wisdom and gives information for exploring both sides of some controversial books and the different ones. Some people may say, do not read them as a Christian and others may say, oh, you should read them.
She gives you information from both sides. Therefore, I love that. Her book has, as I said, so much wisdom in it. It talks about how parents give their children milk and honey. Milk is the nurturing. That is the food, the clothing, the house, the necessities of life. However, honey is what we give them when we help them to learn, to experience life, to embrace life, to find joy in life. Therefore, when we read to our children, that's part of the honey part of life and I love that. Then Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook is on its eighth edition. It is a must-have for anyone wanting to look into reading aloud and how to do it right. Nevertheless, it also offers ideas for your children, as they grow older, this handbook outlines all kinds of it is a book's divided by the age, the appropriate time for the book.
Moreover, I love that Trelease emphasizes that everyone should read aloud to someone just like I was saying with my grown kids. He mentions that when he was growing up, he read to his parents, his pets, and his toys. Therefore, aunts, uncles, and friends can read aloud to our kids and our kids can read aloud to them. We can go to the library for story time, no matter who is reading aloud, and who is listening, it should always be an experience filled with joy and wonder and fun and something to be remembered. Trelease also writes whenever I am asked, why I should read aloud to my child or my students, regardless of the child's age, it provides me with an opportunity to share why reading aloud is so important for both reader and listener. The educational values of reading aloud are well-documented introducing vocabulary, modeling, and fluency, demonstrating expressive reading, developing comprehension, and assisting children and making connections.
There is also the personal value of listening to a book read aloud. That experience may generate vivid memories of a story associated with a person's time or place a memory often remaining with us for years. He also includes great research in his book that shows the undeniable value of reading aloud to our children. He adds we read to children for all the same reasons we talk with them to reassure, to entertain, to bond, to inform or explain to arouse curiosity and to inspire. However, in reading aloud, we also build vocabulary, condition the child's brain to associate reading with pleasure, create background knowledge, provide a reading role model, and instill the desire to read. Therefore, this book is so full of information for the parent and teachers. I highly recommend it. Then the fourth book I want to recommend today is The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids by Sarah McKenzie.
Moreover, it is more of a discussion about the importance of reading to our children. She includes research and lots of excellent information. She has a podcast also called Read-Aloud Revival and focuses on homeschoolers. Nevertheless, the podcast suggests quite a few books each time. It is an excellent podcast. I suggest checking it out. It is really good. It is a little longer than mine is. It is usually about 40 minutes long instead of 20, but it is a really good podcast that has been going on for quite a number of years. The Read-Aloud Family is also written from a Christian worldview. One of my favorite quotes from the book is happily ever after is hardly a myth for those who believe in the promise of eternal joy in heaven. Do you not love that? Is that not great? McKenzie also writes. If we tell them enough stories, they will have encountered hard questions and practiced living through so many trials, hardships, and unexpected situations that God willing. They will have what they need to become the heroes of their own stories.
She quotes Katherine Paterson. Katherine Paterson said the story has been the vehicle for truth for as long as the human race can remember. Moreover, it is a wonderful way to deliver truth by telling stories. When reading her book, I have trouble not highlighting the whole thing. There is so much information in there. That is just wonderful. It is such a good book about why reading to our kids is one of the most important things we can do to build a relationship with our kids. I will leave you with one final quote from McKenzie's book; reading aloud with our kids is indeed the best use of our time and energy as parents. It is more important than just about anything else we can do. I hope these facts and books encourage you as a parent and encourage you to take the time to read to and with your child. It is important and it is a gift you give them that they will never forget.
Thank you for joining us today. I hope you enjoyed this lesson. If you would like to learn more about, parental guidance requested workshops for your church or school check it out on my website at terriehellardbrown.com for more information.
Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials. Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, and discussion. For more information, visit her website at terriehellardbrown.com