The Most Important Thing

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A few months before Amelia was born a friend gifted me The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. I thanked her for it and then put the book on the shelf and promptly forgot about it. It wasn't until several months later when I remembered it again. Fortunately, I picked it up right around the same time I was getting tired of every board book in our collection. And what a game changer! We know reading to our children is important, right? But why does it matter? How young should we start reading to them? What types of books should read? At what age should a child read on their own? And should we stop reading to them once they can read on their own? All of these questions and others are addressed in this compelling book. Intuitively we know reading is essential in helping a child with language acquisition, comprehension, and development. Similarly, reading is a great way to establish a bond between caregiver/parent and child. But did you know that the reading habits of mothers directly impact a child’s reading test scores?

One of the best things about this book is being able to implement its practices almost immediately. For example, after reading about a mother who started to read picture books to her ten-month-old, while she ate in her highchair, I replicated the exact same practice. Not only did it vary our reading material, it helped me focus on creating an enjoyable dining experience where I could focus on the story and no longer worry about Amelia’s food intake. Another practice I’ve implemented is leaving books in every room in the house and also in the car. I love how effortlessly Trelease combines academic studies with personal anecdotes, proving again and again that reading to my child every day may be the single most important thing I do for her. As if the book wasn’t convincing enough in its research, the second half consists of a Treasury of the best read-aloud titles. Including everything from picture books to novels, wordless books, anthologies and fairy tales, marked with correlating grade levels. That said, you can bet I’ll be gifting this at many future baby showers.

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