How often do you read the reading you love, out aloud?
We don’t do it… it is laborious, unnatural and time consuming.
And so, I ask my next question – Why do we make our kids do it?
Okay – we want to check that they are reading correctly. I used to make the kids I teach and my own kids read out aloud. Thanks to Tony Stead I changed this practice very quickly. It is our duty as parents and teachers to instill a love for reading in our children. Reading is essential because from reading we learn not only about life, but we learn language as well as spelling and writing. Making our children read aloud is not going to encourage a love for reading.
If a child experiences difficulty with reading, reading aloud can be excruciating… which leads me on to my next question. What point is there in reading if you do not understand what you are reading? I know I am only too happy to toss an article aside if I have no ideas what it is telling me.
If children read aloud, they are :
- Spending all their energy decoding the words and trying to read them correctly.
- So, not understanding what they are reading.
- So, not connecting to the text or content.
- So, seeing no value or getting no satisfaction from reading.
- So…hating reading.
In my reading classes, where I used to make children read aloud, I now:
- Have each child working on his own reading book at his own pace at his own level (It is SO hard for children to listen to other children reading.)
- Have children read aloud only in their 1:1 conference time with me – where we also have a discussion about the book. (There are heaps of stuff out there on ideas for running conferences – but I am happy to share mine too as I have reorganised mine a few times to make it work for me.)
- Know the children understand what they are reading because I have chosen books for them on the correct level. I get them confident with independent reading and my expectations and then I PUSH.
- Know the children understand what they are reading because they are able to successfully complete engaging tasks that I have pre-prepared around the book they are reading (I have learnt to make these short too because I have come to the realization that nothing kills a love for reading more than knowing you have to do this whole book report on it when you are done. It takes the enjoyment out of it.) One student once said to me, “This is reading class. Why are you making me write?”
- Have used this system to build up the silent reading stamina of children in my class.
- Acknowledge that there is a very important place in the whole classroom where the teacher reads aloud and shares books with her students.
- Would do lots of reading aloud in the Kindergarten year, but start building up silent reading stamina right from the beginning.
At home, I:
- Have encouraged the parents of children I teach to allow their children to read silently.
- Have encouraged parents to read side by side with their children – but silently. Sometimes they read from the same book, sometimes they each read their own book.
- Have acknowledged that there still is a place to read aloud with your kids and share reading aloud…but silent reading is more important.
I know this works, by sharing the following success stories with you:
- I have witnessed students’ reading levels increase at a faster pace than when I used to make them read aloud all the time.
- One student told his classroom teacher that he loves my classes the most because he gets to read silently over there.
- I love it when children with learning difficulties get upset when the bell goes at the end of reading group time… because they want to continue reading. (Go ahead kids! Get upset!)
- I bumped into one of my autistic students in the school holidays. I only started teaching him in February. He had just saved up some money and he was out spending it with his mother. She was in a state of shock when I bumped into her. Guess what he chose to spend his money on? Books! I’m going to take some credit for that one.
And here is my favourite result:
Last year I taught a little girl who was a reluctant reader. She hated reading. The moment I got her to do silent reading at home and school, she took off. Her comprehension jumped up too – she told me she can just understand it now because she can, “hear it all in my head.” Now this little girl is constantly in trouble at home. You know why? Her parents keep finding her reading under the covers with a torch after lights out. That is just the kind of misbehaviour I love!