We all know many stories begin with these words, “Once upon a time.” My story, though, is a little different, and quite frankly, surprising. Let me begin with a little introduction. When I was a teenager, I developed a strange lump in my right leg. Many years later it was diagnosed, by doctors in Johns Hopkins Hospital, as a hemangioma. (It just means there are extra blood vessels in my leg creating poor circulation. I have never been interested in the field of science, or medicine, and this post is not about anything medical. I promise!)
Through the years, though, blood clots have formed in that leg several times. One fall, I needed a re-eval to be sure the clot from the previous year had completely dissolved. A Doppler study uses sound waves to measure and detect any such masses, much like the process of searching to find lost ships at sea. As the tech began, he and I started to chat. He learned that I was a Pre-K teacher (2007) and that my role was to help prepare children to enter Kindergarten “ready to learn,” the following fall. When he asked me about the “one thing” that would help his young children, I said, “Read aloud to them.”
“Really?” he responded. “By the time my wife and I get home in the evenings, eat dinner, get the kids in the tub, and in the bed, we are wiped out.”
This comment made me very sad.
Here is the point of this blog: As an educator of preschool children, for the past seven years, I’m concerned that some parents are not reading to their young children as often as parents did years ago.
May I just encourage you to read to, and with, your children …. often?
Believe me, I understand when people say, “I’m just so busy.” Man, oh man, I get crazy busy myself!
However, when we think about young children learning pre-reading skills, and even getting excited about and interested in learning to read by themselves, reading to them is such a vital, and rich learning opportunity. There are so many ways to use that time to help children improve cognitive skills, learn new vocabulary, make predictions, and draw conclusions, and even learn to express their own thoughts and feelings. I always enjoy reading with different voices for each character too. Children love it, when we make it fun!! (Perhaps, I should blog more on this another day.)
As educators we are encouraged to create print rich environments in our classrooms, but parents can do this at home too in many ways. There are many, many great books written for children and local librarians can be quite helpful in finding excellent literature for children. (And, those books are free!)
My story, as an idealist, would begin, “Once upon a time there was a land where every family read books to their children every evening, even as they got older.”
And, the end of the book would read, “They grew up reading (and learning about strange medical conditions all by themselves) happily ever after.”
Please note I am passionate about this issue, and I would love for you to consider buying my book. It was a pleasure to create it, and the children in my preschool have enjoyed it for several years. If you are interested in a book patterned after The Cat in the Hat, check it out. I have a sequel, too, which I hope to publish soon. Happy reading!