Chocolate-covered strawberries, or the joy and benefits of reading aloud to your child

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Ha!  Got your attention didn’t I?  Chocolate-covered strawberries…mmmmm….

So what does this delectable dessert have to do with reading aloud to children?  Well, yesterday I started reading a very excellent book by well-known children’s author Mem Fox entitled Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever.  (Call number is 372.67 FOX, available at Leesburg Branch–well, it will be when I finish reading it!).  Even though I haven’t finished the book yet, I just couldn’t wait to share this with you.  I have read quite a lot about this subject recently because in my opinion, it is one of my most important tasks as a children’s librarian to support parents and caregivers in reading aloud to their children–early, often, and for as long into their childhood years as the kids will allow.

Perhaps you have heard all the statistics about how children who are read to do better in school.  Maybe you have even heard of and stressed over the six early literacy skills.  Indeed, I have stressed over how to convey them to you.  I have to laugh to myself when I think of how many times I have started and stop this very post.  But Mem Fox has inspired me to just tell you what I know for sure.  Listen to this:

“Reading aloud shouldn’t be thought of as a grimacing This Is Good For Your Child event for mothers and fathers.  When we get involved in reading aloud to our babies and other children, we often forget entirely that we should be reading aloud.  We have such a rollicking good time, and we relate so warmly to our kids as we read together, that it becomes a delicious “chocolate” kind of experience.”  p 10-11

Are you seeing how chocolate covered strawberries come into the picture?  The strawberries are pretty good, and very good for us.  But when you cover them with chocolate?!?  It goes from a serving of fruit (yawn) to a dessert!  And so it is with reading aloud to your children.

So maybe it’s a little too late for a proper New Year’s resolution, but I’m going to ask you to do it anyway.  If you are not already doing so, please commit to reading to your children every day.  If you are reading aloud every day already, I commend you.  You are doing more for their intellectual, psychological, and emotional development than any of us may ever know.  But let me challenge you to find ways to make it a “chocolate” experience every day!  Use funny voices, talk about the stories with your kids, bring them to the library to select new and interesting books for your read-alouds.  Whatever you do, just have fun and cherish the time that you are spending together!

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