The value of reading to and with your children has been the topic of much research. Shared reading was developed by Don Holdaway (1979). It builds from the research that indicates that storybook reading is critical to the development of young children’s reading (Wells, 1986). Storybook reading done by parents in a home setting is particularly effective (Strickland & Taylor, 1989) in developing early reading skills.
Repeated readings of the same story accomplish several goals:
The first reading is for enjoyment and should not delve into vocabulary. If the listener points out pictures or asks questions it is fine to stop and discuss these but only if the listener initiates this.
The second may focus on building and extending comprehension of the plot. Questions related to what will happen next or why did a character act this way may arise during this reading.
A third might focus attention on interesting words.
A fourth might focus on sounding and/or, using the words from the story for painting or adding to a word box or posting words around the room.
Shared reading makes effective use of multiple readings of the same book over several days. In this reading, parents, grandparents, other caregivers should make every effort to actively involve the listener in the reading.
Here are some ways to do this:
Talk about the title of the book.
Examine the pictures. Talk about what the pictures tell about plot events, characters and/or setting.
Encourage the listener to guess what is going to happen next. This might include a conversation about what might happen after the book’s plot ends. For example: Did Max have the same dream again? Did his dream change his behavior?
Talk about situations in the book that are similar to those in the listener’s experience. For example: Do the listener and a book character share a favorite article, a favorite pet, a favorite food? Do they have similarities in appearance? Do they share a wish or a fear? Has the listener ever been sent to his room like Max was?
Pause in the reading and ask the child to finish a word or phrase. Because many of the books include predictable text, children can often chime in with a word or phrase. This will occur more and more often as the book sharing is repeated.
Let the listener be the page turner and share in holding the book.
Through repeated readings and the predictable text, listeners will become familiar with word forms and begin to recognize words and phrases. Explore these together. Perhaps even post words from the story around the child’s room. Make this a natural process not a forced or formal teaching. These should be teachable moments. The child might find all the words on the paged that start like his name, for instance.
Rich interesting stories enrich a listener’s life. Each repeated reading is like peeling an onion. They unearth yet another appreciation for or understanding of the plot, the pictures, the characters’ motivation and/or how what is happening in the story mirrors the listener’s life. There is no set rule about how many times a book is repeated or how much time elapses between readings.
As adults we often tend to think: Read that. On to something else! However, think about how rereading a book or reviewing a movie enriched your appreciation for that work. Kids love to hear stories again and again. Don’t overlook the benefits for repeated reading of a good book!
As a support for the Book on Every Bed literacy program, Richly Middle Class is pleased to provide a book a month to one lucky reader. This month’s book is Love Your Forever by Robert Munsch. It’s one of our favorites! This picture book is great to share with preschoolers to middle school age listeners. It has a powerful message for readers of all ages.
Do you want to be the lucky winner of RMC’s book this month? Here’s how. Leave a comment.