A Better Way to Read to Children

by Mary Ann on January 22, 2015


I was listening to my daughter read Charlotte’s Web to her small children. Every few sentences she would stop and say something like “What does maneuver mean?” or  “What does loft mean?” or What does slop mean”? or  “What is a manure pile?”

downloadWhen the term manure pile came up again, later in the story, my daughter emphasized the term as she read. Then she asked, “Do you remember what manure pile means?” I heard, “Eweee, a pile of poop.” Then laughter.

In the story the cows were described as patient. Right now Jodie is working on helping her children learn to be patient. When she read that word she stopped and said, “Patient means to wait quietly till you get what you need.” Knowing looks from the kids.

At one point something happened that wasn’t right and one of the characters in the book said, “You’re going to catch it.” Jodie asked the kids what that phrase meant. They weren’t sure so she replied, “It means you are going to be in trouble.” Then she said, “You’re going to catch it Jack. You’re going to catch it Maggie. You’re going to catch it Mary.” Big smiles all around! Jack said in a loud, happy voice, “You’re going to catch it mom!”

“Do you know what asparagus is?”

A chorus of “No.”

“Well it’s like a great big piece of grass that people eat. It’s yummy. We could buy some, eat it and pretend that we are cows. Should we do it?” A chorus of yeses! “It sort of looks like a spear”, Jack said.

Next there was another conversation about slop. “If some people don’t like something they say it tastes like slop. But the better thing to say is, I don’t like this.” Then there was a conversation about manners.

Then a conversation about freedom ensued. The animals in the story were glad they weren’t tied up or penned in. Jodie said, “Isn’t it interesting that everyone wants a little freedom, to be able to choose what they want to do.” The kids had a lot to say about that! They all talked about freedom and choice and responsibility.

images (1)At one point in the story the goose was telling another animal to twist, turn, skip, slide and run. Jodie said, “She isn’t helping him. Why isn’t it helpful?” Jack replied, “She’s teaching him to run away. She is getting him in trouble.”

At one point in the story Jack said, “That part isn’t in the movie”. Then they had a discussion about why things in books aren’t always in the movie. They decided it was good to read the book first and get the whole story before seeing a movie about the book.

Let’s see, this took about 30 minutes. The ages of the children were 7, 5, and 3. They were totally engaged and involved. I think they got through one, maybe two chapters. It is going to take some time to get the whole book read. : )

Charlotte13What did they talk and learn about:

• The meanings to many words that were unfamiliar and that are important to understanding the story.
• They learned about some character traits such as patience and responsibility.
• They talked about freedom and why it is important and why people like it.
• They learned the meaning of a new phrase; you’re going to catch it.
• They planned the next family activity – to buy, cook and eat asparagus and be cows.
• They talked about manners and what to do if you are eating and you don’t like something.
• They talked about the difference in written stories and movies and why they might not be the same.

This is how to read a book to children. It is fun, it is interactive, it holds attention, it is learning at its best. Reading time as a family is not about getting through a book. It is about bonding, laughter, happy feelings and learning together.

Remember that adults are end product driven, for the most part, and kids are process driven. We want to read, move along at a reasonable pace and get it done, then on to the next book. Kids want to experience something while they are reading. They want to experience “family”.

What great book have you read with your family recently? Let me know. : )

P.S. Here is a great tutorial from Audrey Rindlisbacher at the Tenboom Institute on how to get children ages 10-12 to engage with you and the books they are reading. By the way, Audrey and Blaine are moving all their great book discussions, reading videos and book reviews to a new home. Visit them here.  The page name “Books You’ll Love” speaks more clearly to what they are all about, books you really will love!!

If you like this post, please share it with your community by using one of the social share buttons.

Possibly Related Posts:

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: