Saturday, September 3

Reading Quietly about Reading Aloud

In the first couple days back from the states we were jet-lagged and I needed some quiet time.  The boys were delighted after almost six weeks to see all their toys, and so in the matter of a day I read Reading Magic:Why Reading Aloud to Children will Change their Lives that Aunt Connie gave me.  I need no enticement to read aloud to my children - we're a bit obsessive about books around here - but, I found the author's description of the 'learning to read process' compelling and it described, better than I've ever been able to, how Jonah taught himself to read at age three.  Lots of reading aloud, some simple games with words and letters on the page and more reading aloud.  I've had lots of people ask how I taught Jo to read, to which I always reply "we read a lot and played some games, but mostly he just figured it out.  Some kids do some things early and others do other things - Jonah's thing was reading."  Now I can simply point them to this book (this is why I am posting this, because several of you, who visit this space, have asked).  
Mem Fox is the author of several picture books (we love her Time for Bed).  And she has obviously done some research on the reading process.  She makes a compelling argument against phonics based approaches (at least at first), which now makes so much sense to me.  Reading isn't about making sounds, it is about decoding meaning.  Granted Jonah and I are now going back and doing phonics work because, while Jonah can read anything he picks up, he can't spell much of anything.  Fox's approach claims that a child should first learn to read books, then words, then sounds... it can sound backwards, but really it makes sense.  I'll let you read the book if you want a better description or some proof (aside from the ridiculously small sample size of my one small boy). 

I certainly am no expert on teaching reading (as I said, we did very little teaching and used no readers, programs, etc.), but what Fox says makes sense to me.  Perhaps the most important thing she talks about is that children shouldn't be pushed to read until closer to 8.  And her proposed reality is that most children will figure it out by then if we give them the tools - which just means read, read, read!  It really is rather magical to watch!

1 comment:

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