A Read Aloud Diary As told to The Book Chook
for Share a Story - Shape a Future I believe one of the most important things I can do for Thomas is read aloud to him every day. By sharing stories with him, I am helping to shape his future in an incredibly positive and caring way. Here’s what happens when we share a story: 7:12 pm Saturday I make sure Thomas is comfortable - not hungry, thirsty or over-tired. He’s had dinner and a bath, and soon it will be bedtime. Our favourite place for sharing a story is snuggled together in the big armchair in my study. That feeling of love and closeness makes our read-aloud experience really special. There are no distracting screens turned on, but occasionally we hear quiet music playing from the lounge room. Sometimes we chat first about the cover and what the story might be about. Tonight, Thomas has chosen Possum Magic by Mem Fox. 7.15pm Saturday If I’m reading a picture book aloud, I hold the book where Thomas can see the text while he listens, imagines, and gazes at the pictures. I believe this is an important step in pre-reading, helping kids make connections between what they hear and the print they see. My comfy lap just seems the natural place for Thomas to watch the story unfold.
7.17pm Saturday It’s important to make story time fun. I use all my tricks of voice, facial expression and body language to bring a book to life. Sometimes it’s my turn to choose a book I know and enjoy, and I have fun with it! I love to slow my reading down to build suspense, or make big eyes and a huge smile if we come to a surprise. Because Possum Magic is one of Thomas’s favourites, I’m practically word perfect!
7:19pm Saturday Thomas knows every part of this story, but he follows the words intently, often patting the animals’ pictures with his fingers. I don’t stop to ask him questions to make sure he understands, or discuss the story. We might do that later. This is reading aloud time, and Thomas is both willing participant and audience.
“And she did.” 7:25pm Saturday When we get close to the end, I remember Mem’s own advice about how to finish a story: I make the last line v-e-r-y slow indeed. Thomas knows exactly how we say it, too. He looks at me with a grin and joins in: “And she did.” I close the book, and we share a quiet cuddle, both of us dreaming about an invisible possum called Hush.
7.30pm Saturday Because I’ve been reading to Thomas since he was a baby, he knows the bed time read-aloud routine. I tuck him under the covers now with an assortment of soft toys, and he settles down to sleep. Nearby, he has some books for early morning “reading”. Thomas is well on the way to being a reader, because he’s learnt many stories by heart. Sometimes I hear him sharing them with Teddy. When I peek into his bedroom, Thomas has the bear on his lap so that he can see the text. It makes me so happy to know that when he’s a dad, Thomas will share stories with his own kids as a way of lovingly shaping their futures.
Text: Susan Stephenson, aka The Book Chook, http://thebookchook.blogspot.com Phot0 credits Flickr, clockwise from black and white baby pic: 1. http://www.flickr.com/photos/codyr/2498213556/in/ set-72157594225630696/, 2. http://www.flickr.com/photos/karenjybanez/2457991011/, 3. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ joshp/1279598191/, 4. http://www.flickr.com/photos/razzlefrazzle/390693217/