One of the things my husband and I are excited about as our family grows (and grows up) is having a family reading circle. In the earlier days of our marriage, we read a handful of books together aloud, every night before bed. (Gone with the Wind was our grandest accomplishment.) Carrying on the tradition with our kids is exciting to us both–we can’t wait to share our childhood favorites, and discover new favorites, especially in Spanish, which is completely untapped for us both as far as children’s literature goes. Even now, I have yet to read a Spanish board book to our 10-month-old without encountering some word or regionalism I’ve never heard before. Oh, the vocabulary development for us all!
And no kidding. A new report from Scholastic was released recently and discussed in the NY Times here, presenting the numbers and discussing the benefits of reading together as a family, even into later childhood. It appears that, as soon as children are independent readers, most parents taper off their book time together, but the habit should be cultivated. For one, as I said above, the vocabulary development is huge, since children may be exposed to books with more complex language than they would choose themselves, and develop background knowledge with the aid of their more knowledgeable guides. It also seems beneficial to both hear and see new words so kids know how they’re pronounced, aiding in mastery. (For the longest time, I thought “unshed” was pronounced /unsht/ and my husband thought “chamomile” was /ka-mo-myle/ because we’d only ever seen them written and never heard them spoken as young students. Few things cause as much embarrassment as trying to look smart by using big words and messing them up!)
The study also discusses reading among older students, stating that reading time must be built into the school day for optimum opportunity to cultivate a love of books. The impact of family reading time doesn’t seem as strong in this age group, but I would venture to say that dedicated reading time, at any point, with anybody, counts for something.
How do your students feel about reading? Do they have time to read independently at school? If you dug into their reading habits at home, with or without their parents, what would you find?