The Power of A Good Book

It’s incredible how much we can help children just by reading to them when they’re young. Some of my thoughts and tips on reading aloud with kids and some of my favourite books I’ve used in the classroom.

I recently finished up a class this past winter quarter at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB, where I am wrapping up my BA in English) that was a Masters level class designed to help writing teachers teach writing. The class was very interesting in and of itself, but the reason I bring it up is that a reoccurring topic was the ever-growing struggle that middle-school, high-school, and college level English teachers are having with getting their students to enjoy reading. Because to be a strong writer, you also have to be a strong reader; you have to read to write and visa versa. One of the suggested solutions to this? Get kids involved with reading when they are young!

Now, I myself am an avid reader, I devour books left right and center. And one of the greater joys I get during my days teaching is reading to my students. They are at the age when they themselves are just discovering the magic of understanding letters, that those curved  and jagged lines on papers and signs all around them are not beyond their realm of understanding. But they cannot yet read; that makes it my responsibility to show them the magic that can be found in stories and storytelling. There is a bounty of research that links reading with your child and helping their literacy, their increased chances of enjoying reading, and their overall increased chances of academic success. I will link some of these articles at the end of this post.

I want to share with you some tips I have found that really help with my storytelling with my children. It is so important to read with your child; I cannot express this enough. But more importantly, you want to have fun with it!

Throughout my teaching, I have found that there are some books that children really connect with. It helps to be a dramatic story-teller, and even if you are not one for acting out with heart and soul, just switching up different voices can really help your child become that much more engaged with a story. I have also found that if I am reading a new book, it helps me to read it through one time, or at least skim the pages, so it’s not too unfamiliar to me (or so there isn’t anything in the book that I might find too ‘scary’ or unsettling for the kids).  I try my best to eliminate distractions (this might be easier to do at home than in a classroom of twenty-four children), but sometimes, I don’t need to try that hard; to this day, ten years into teaching, it really surprises me how intently children can listen to a good story.

Here is a list of some of the top picks I have used through my time in the classroom:

  • Go Away Big Green Monster– Ed Emberley
  • The Grouchy Ladybug– Eric Carle
  • Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business– Esphyr Slobodkina
  • Mog– Judith Kerr
  • The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin– Joe Troiano
  • Mustache Baby- Bridget Heos
  • The Chocolate-Covered-Cookie Tantrum- Deborah Blumenthal
  • The Pete the Cat Books (My favourites are Rocking in My School Shoes, I Love My New Shoes, and My Four Groovy Buttons)- Eric Litwin
  • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything- Linda Williams
  • Sheep in a Jeep– Nancy Shaw
  • The Napping House– Audrey Wood
  • King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub– Audrey Wood
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt- Michael Rosen
  • The Kissing Hand- Audrey Penn
  • I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More- Karen Beaumont
  • A Hat for Minerva Louise– Janet Stoeke
  • One Duck Stuck- Phyllis Root

This list is by no means exhaustive. It doesn’t include MY favourites, even (all though I do really like them!), or ones that I think can nessecarily teach certain important messages or be used for particular discussions, etc.,  etc…if I attempted to do that I would essentially be typing up a book-centered curriculum. The books that I listed are my preschoolers’ favourites. In multiple classrooms, across multiple age groups, over and over again, these books have entertained them, kept them laughing, engaged, and asking questions. I recommend all of them for helping build a lasting love of reading in your little one.

Here are some links to a few articles that provide more information about the importance of reading aloud with your child:

Do you read aloud often to your child? What are your favourite books to read with them? Please share you and your kids’ favourite stories in the comments, or any questions you may have for me! I look forward to your feedback.

Miss Jaide