In our class, reading occurs throughout every day. I read to the children and they read on their own. We read instructions, poems, and stories. We read for information and for pleasure. The children look at books and read by themselves or with friends.
Every day, I try to find time to read from a chapter book to the children. Even when children are competent readers, it is still important for them to be read to. Reading to children exposes them to stories that are beyond their reading level and introduces them to literature they might not choose on their own. As more sophisticated stories are read to them they become acquainted to more advanced vocabulary, story lines, and characters.
I began this year reading the first book in the "Magic Treehouse" series. In this story the children venture into the woods, past their backyard, and discover a treehouse full of books. They look at a book about dinosaurs and are magically transported back into the Cretaceous period. Many children are already familiar with this series but their has definitely been an increased interest in these books since reading this book.
Currently, I am reading The Secret Garden to the class. In the beginning of the book, the main character, Mary, is in India and everyone she knows, including her parents, die from cholera. The children were curious about cholera so I got on the computer and read to them about the disease and we looked at a microscopic photo of the bacteria. The children decided the bacteria looked like worms. Since, 1st and 2nd graders, are already fascinated with bodily functions, this lead to a lengthy discussion about how you get the disease, and why so many people died ,and how in present day, people can now take antibiotics if they contact cholera.
When you read a novel to children, you can never be sure where the discussions will travel. Hopefully, we will have some lighter discussions as the story progresses and Mary finds a neglected, locked garden in the backyard of her uncle's house. One can only hope.
To learn more about reading aloud to children , click here.