Pam Allyn, literacy educator and founder of the world literacy project LitWorld, has provided a great resource for parents with her book What to Read When: The Books and Stories to Read with Your Child -- and All the Best Times to Read Them. Allyn writes, "Through books and stories that are meant to be read alound, we convey to our children the beauty of language and the joys of rhythm and rhyme; and in the books we choose to read and the way we read them, we also convey the values we hold dear."
Further, research suggests that reading alound to children, even after they are able to read fluently on their own, also improves their vocabularies and reading comprehension abilities.
While reading stories aloud, parents have the opportunity to:
- model the habits of good readers: making predictions, asking questions, recalling previously stated information from the text, and drawing from prior knowledge and experience
- familiarize children with common text structures
- expose children to various genres
- build children's critical thinking skills by critiquing books together
- teach children about the world around them
After the introductory chapters, What to Read When is split into two sections. The first, called "What to Read Alound at Every Age" lists great books and brief descriptions to match a child's cognitive development from birth until ten years old. The next section, called "The Emotional 'When'" is arranged into fifty themes. Parents can select books to accompany the joyful times in a child's life, like Birthdays, Feeling Silly, or Loving Music, and can help guide them through difficult times with themes like Divorce, Coping with Illness and Loneliness. Bookshelves in the children's section can be overwhelming places. What to Read When is an insightful guide to help parents navigate.
And what about independent readers?
Children's choices provides children with the opportunity to voice their opinions about books, and serves as a great resource for both children and adults. Check out these great lists, and encourage the kids in your life to investigate it, too. After all, who could provide a better recommendation than kids themselves?