Monday, August 23, 2010

The Read-Aloud

The pink and orange of the sunset has faded and we can no longer see the weeds we are pulling in the flower beds. I call the children to come inside and the request is met with great opposition by my four-year-old. Despite his usual insatiable drive to eat, my four-year-old has happily remained outside until nine o'clock, thanks to the lingering sunlight. Unfortunately, once inside, his exhaustion and hunger hit and complete mayhem overtakes my kitchen. With dishes piled in the sink, splatters of marinara spleckling the counter, and a lump of sticky leftover noodles hardening in the bottom of the pan, we leave the ruin of a quick feeding-frenzy and cuddle into bed for a read-aloud. For my four-year-old, it's short stories from Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad Together. My son's particular favorites include "Cookies" and "The Dream". For my nine-year-old daughter, it's Mildred D. Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

I'll never tire of the magic that occurs while reading aloud to a young child. I heard of a study (although I cannot verify the source) that said a child will make some sort of physical contact with the person reading to them--leaning on their arm, holding their hand, resting a head on their shoulder. This type of connection must say something for the emotional value of reading aloud, in addition to the obvious academic benefits. My nine-year-old is a self-motivated, independent reader, yet she looks forward to being read to just as much as the four-year-old does. A voice can bring a story to life. Hearing the dialogue spoken by another, rather than by the voice in our heads, pulls the characters off the pages. And in a book like Mildred Taylor's, the dialogue is worth hearing aloud!

The Read-Aloud...such a peaceful way to end the day. Now, if only some fairy would appear and clean the kitchen.

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