Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Read aloud to your children

Imagine this scenario and shut your eyes. You are a child again, snuggling against the warm body of your mum, you smell the familiar scent you have known since you were born, you hear the words coming out of her mouth. You are calmed and soothed by the sound of her gentle voice and the cadence and rhythm as she reads, and the delightful pictures of the book she has in front of you. Isn’t this a heavenly feeling to both Mum and child? (Of course, this applies to Dads as well.) It is such a good opportunity for bonding, and if it is read just before bedtime, it allows them both to unwind and relax and have a good night sleep.

I grew up in an era where Mum had many babies and had no time for recreational reading for us. But one of my sister benefited from her, just by mum’s side as mum went through our school work. Every afternoon, after school, mum would go through our school work and make us read our chapters. She would assist us in our reading. In her own words, this sister knew by heart the chapters of my brother’s and my school books. In the holidays, Dad would make us write a composition and then read it aloud to all of us. This sister was too young to write a composition, but she was there to listen to our work and his corrections. Whether it is nature, or nurture, this sister excelled in everything, academically, sports, and socially and she got a PhD to show for it.

With my own children, I read to them, and they are all avid readers. One is into writing and editing. My youngest was reading and writing at a very young age, and he was to the amazement of an academic that she recorded his reading of “The town mouse, and the country mouse.” when he was barely three. His performance was consistently high and he achieved the top 1% of the country.

So what are the benefits of reading? The child hears the words, and learns to pronounce the words, and understand the words, and enjoys the story as well as the illustration. Reading encourages imagination and later creativity. Reading is a cheap exercise, you can join the public library to borrow books. For a change to your own reading, many public libraries and play groups have story reading sessions. You can learn from these trained librarians or story readers how to improve your reading and make your reading a more enjoyable session.

As a child grows older, even if he/she can read by himself/herself, it doesn’t mean that reading aloud to your child should stop. Your child will enjoy role playing and you and he can read different roles of the characters in the book. My youngest child is now twelve, he still enjoys listening to my stories and articles and critiques them.

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