Almost everyone would agree that it’s important to read books aloud to young children. Since I am also a teacher, no one had to convince me of the importance of reading to my children. From the time they were born I held them in my arms and read books to them. The memories of my children sitting on my lap and listening to me read a book are some of my fondest memories.
As much as most people are on board with reading aloud to young children, it seems that most parents stop reading books out loud to their children at some point. It usually happens in the middle grade years (3rd-5th grades). The assumption is that since they can read for themselves, they no longer need to be read to. Middle and High school teachers can attest to the fact that their students will listen when they read books out loud, so if students will listen, then so will children at home.
My own children always loved listening to me read out loud. I continued reading to them until they seemed to have become too busy for me to read to them. Then recently they surprised me when they were lamenting the fact that I no longer read to them. I was genuinely touched to discover that they missed listening to me read to them.
So the other day we discussed which books were our favorites. After much debate, here are our favorite books to read aloud together:
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis – There isn’t much that I can add about this wonderful, classic story except to say that everyone should read it at least once. My kids were so captivated by the story of Lucy, Peter, Edmund and Susan. They loved hearing about Aslan and the White Witch. Every night there was a collective groan from both of them when I said it was time to go to sleep. We very much anticipated the release of this movie, but deep down inside we knew that it could never measure up to the book.
“The Watsons go the Birmingham – 1963” by Christopher Paul Curtis – I had heard one of the fifth grade teachers at the school I work at read this book to her students for a couple of years before I decided to read it to my own children. It is a Newberry Honor book as well as a Coretta Scott King Award winner. My kids were amazed as they listened to what life was like for African-Americans in the early 1960s. The Watsons end up in Birmingham in 1963 just before the infamous bombing of the church that killed four girls. They learned a lot about this time in history. It is an amazing story, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), there is no movie for this one.
“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkein – This book was the first time that my daughter wasn’t interested in a book. So it was just between my son and I. In fact, we made a standing date to see the movie. It took the two of us about three months to read it together. I had to explain a lot of the vocabulary, but we persevered and we have a special mother-son memory. By the way, we loved the movie and can’t wait for the next one to come out.
They keep saying that they want me to read something out loud to them one more time before they’re both off to college. My daughter is a junior and my son is a sophomore in high school. I keep wanting to tackle a classic that they haven’t read in school yet. Unfortunately, it can’t bee too long. Any suggestions?