If you read this blog at all or know our family, you know that we read a lot as a family. There are lots of reasons to read aloud and loads of resources for telling you how to read and what to read and why. It increases language development in babies and toddlers. Kids who are read to have bigger vocabularies and do better in school. Kids who are read to are more likely to become readers themselves.
I think though that most families don’t really think about all those benefits when we read aloud to our kids. Or we only think about it a little. Mostly we read aloud because it’s enjoyable. We like to snuggle with our babies and toddlers and preschoolers and share a favorite book. We like to see their faces light up at a familiar beloved book.
As our kids get older we still like to share books together. As a family we have immersed ourselves in the worlds of Gregor the Overlander and the Sisters Grimm and the Melendys. When one of us says “Turn and turn and turn again…”, someone else can say the next line. When we are all sharing the same books together my 6 year old and her older brothers find themselves talking about the same characters and wondering what will happen next. They inhabit the same worlds in ways they wouldn’t without the shared stories.
As I said earlier, there a ton of resources available to help you choose books to read with your kids. I think sometimes that we worry to much about picking “the right books” or making sure all the books we read are quality or on an approved list. It is good to pick good books. But it’s more important just to read a lot, and not worry so much about if each books is the right or perfect book.
Yesterday at lunch we read books on China for our current world cultures study. I find the books we read mostly by just going to our library website and doing searches. At this point (after homeschooling for 8 years) I know series and authors that we like. I end up doing a combination of selecting some books I’m pretty sure will work for us and getting a whole bunch of others that I’m not sure of. One of the books I got out this time was a book on China meant for a much younger audience, probably infant or toddlers.I didn’t realize it was written for much younger kids until I go it home but decided to read it anyway as it looked cute and quick. The concept was cute: a baby travels though China with his family and each page has a “where am I” kind of twist as you see where baby is and learn a little about famous sites in China. Sweet.
BUT. Each page also had a very odd baby doll positioned somewhere on the page spread as the caption asked “where is baby?”. The doll was weirdly creepy and absolutely hilarious. I don’t think the four of us have laughed so hard in a long time as we laughed at that book. I couldn’t even read at some points because of the tears rolling down my face and because I couldn’t catch my breath. My seventh grader literally fell out of his chair laughing.
My thought during all this was “Oh, yeah, this is also why we read together.” Good vocabulary, great literature, a love of reading. All good. But sometimes just as good is the shared laughter over a really bad book.