Thursday, March 17, 2011

Reading Aloud: a Personal Challenge

I am starting a list.  A list of things I need to read or listen to on a very regular basis.  Because I forget. 

Am I alone? 

I have these convictions.  Things I really think are important.  Yet in the day to day garbage of life, I just don't do what is important to me.

One of those core values for me is reading aloud.  I started doing it daily when I came home from work.  That was when I was put on bedrest with William, twelve and a half years ago.  At that point, I really didn't know all the wonderful reasons why, but I knew that reading aloud daily was important.

Then I discovered Sonlight, which places a huge emphasis on read-alouds, at least before high school.  And I read books like The Read Aloud Handbook.  And Honey for a Child's Heart.

Latin Centered Curriculum helped me to decide that I needed to strive for two hours a day of read-alouds.  And for the most part, we succeeded.  For quite a long time.  And... eventually, it fell apart.

Fast forward to now.  I'm reviewing All About Reading, and it includes 20 minutes a day of reading aloud.  Her statement is that if you read aloud for 20 minutes a day, that "will amount to 10 hours a month and 120 hours a year."  Seriously.  Can you even begin to imagine the difference that can make?  Do that for the next decade, and you have read to them for over 1,200 hours. 

Somewhere in there, I also listened to Andrew Pudewa speak on "Nurturing Competent Communicators."  And this is now on my list to listen to, oh, I don't know... at least once a quarter.

Andrew reminds me why I think reading aloud is important.  Vocabulary.  Language patterns.  Exposure to material that is above their reading level. 

So... I am going to try to actually report in on our reading aloud.  Because I've been failing. 
  • A Murder for Her Majesty:  That's Connor's current read-aloud, and everyone has been listening in.  We finished it.  I'd guess we read about four hours this week.
  • Destination: Moon.  This was a review book.  Everyone listened.  I'm guessing that was another few hours worth.
  • Dragons: Legends and Lore of Dinosaurs.  Another review book that everyone is in on.  We've only spent about an hour on it so far.
  • And then there is the 20 minutes a day I've been reading to Trina.  Sometimes, Richard joins in.  We've read a book about caring for hamsters, Eloise Wilkin Stories, and a magazine.
William & Thomas would normally have a read-aloud too, but at the moment, that is an audiobook, and I'm not counting them right now.  I'm also not going to be listing out things like science, or their history, or anything along those lines.

For this next week, we'll be reading Out of Many Waters (Connor), continuing the Dragon book, and picking up Paladins.  And obviously, Trina's reading.  I think I need to work on finding something else specifically targeted towards Richard.

How about you?  What are you reading to your kids this week?  As soon as I post this, I'm starting another one dated next Thursday...  because I owe it to my kids to make myself be accountable.


Tristan said...

Great idea!

Let me see, this week I've been reading aloud The Magician's Nephew to the whole family, lots of little kids books to Daniel and Oliver (a la All About Reading), I've worked on Little Women with Makayla, and Joseph and Emma have not got something specific going. Time to fix that!

Loretta said...

Sounds like you're doing fine to me. I read aloud to my children until the oldest was in 10th grade. At the end, I was reading things like Huckleberry Finn and Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? (economics). We also read Shakespeare plays aloud together at that stage. Now the youngest is in 9th grade, and we've stopped. I miss those days, but it's hard to find the time (jobs and heavier school load), even if I could find enough challenging things to read to them. (I'm sure I could.) Keep at it for as long as you can. And if reading aloud everyday is too difficult to maintain, choose a particular number of days per week, and aim for consistency in that!

Lori Watson said...

I choose one read aloud for the family (not including history or Bible or what I read aloud for any specific subject). We're currently halfway through The Princess Bride.

I love reading aloud and have been doing it for twenty years but needed this reminder on making it a priority. Thanks! And may you continue to make time to read! :-)

Jenny B said...

Thank you for the reminder. I, too, used to read aloud for 2 hours. When my third was born it just stopped. Hmmm....I need to start a list, too.

Michelle Smith said...

You know, Debra, we have finished our Tapestry of Grace read-alouds and are awaiting some new books to arrive through the library. I've been looking over the booklists trying to decide what I could use as a read-aloud (maybe from the dialectic level) that I have on hand. I do read aloud a fair bit, when I add in the history and literature and science I read aloud to the little ones, too. I try to add in some picture books for the little ones as well. But I need to plan this out better, I think. I like the 1000 Good Books list from the Classical Christian Ed loop and when I get really stuck I usually refer to that one.

Debra said...

Oh, I need to clarify! When I say that I've been doing a miserable job, I am NOT referring to this past week! I think I did pretty okay this week.

Michelle -- love that list. It is one of my favorites.

Tess said...

Ouch! I have so dropped the ball on reading aloud. We used to do the majority of our read aloud time in the afternoon (history and science) and then literature for the whole family (Sonlght Read Alouds) in the evening. We are doing some audio books (Caddie Woodlawn and Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry) but I think we need to get back to reading aloud.

Jill Stanish said...

Our most recent read-alouds to my junior crew (4, 6 & 8 year olds) were The Happy Orpheline & A Brother for the Orphelines by Natalie Savage Carlson, as well as the Gooney Bird Green books by Lois Lowry. My kids also enjoyed Elizabeth Enright's Gone Away Lake and Return to Gone Away. We bought the audios for those since the books were such a hit. My husband and I try to make time to read aloud to each other as well (when kids are in bed or when we are driving somewhere without kids). We are currently working through Dorothy Sayers' short stories about Lord Peter Wimsey.

Marie said...

Love this idea! We have Bible each day and my 5th grader will read his science to the younger kids alot of days (not everyday). As a family we recently finished My Side of the Mountain and are almost through Helen Keller. Not sure what we'll read next.
With my two youngest kids we read a Bible story each night and they can each pick two of the library books for me to read. Right now we're reading Circle C's Scary School that we received from the review crew. Thinking about starting a Box Car book or either Farmer Boy next. Still undecided.
2 hrs a day would be great but we don't typically make it (I don't think...we might when I add it all up counting morning, afternoon, and evening hmm, not sure).

Read Aloud Dad said...

Love your sincerity and how you share your thoughts on reading aloud.

It is a daily challenge and we must keep ourselves accountable for our kids.

I also "owe it to my kids to make myself be accountable".

We all do.

By the way, this week we are reading "More Stories from the Wishing Chair" and many picture books.

Read Aloud Dad

Debra said...

Thanks, Read Aloud Dad! I love hearing from other parents who are making themselves be accountable. Reading aloud is so critical.

And I'm off to find info about this "Wishing Chair" title... :)

Heather said...

I am glad I saw this. I am going to try to participate next week. Reading aloud is oh, so important. If we only realized how important it is, we'd spend hours doing it, yet our read alouds get lost in the daily mess and muddle, too. Thanks for the inspiration. I am going to try to make a button for this page on my blog to remind me. Let me know if you come up with one.



Debra said...

Heather -- I'd love to have you participate! And yes, if I would just *think* about how important this is, well... yeah. We'd definitely do more.

I need to figure out a button. I need to.