Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Saturday 16 May 2015

Reading Aloud? - Yes Please!

The bedtime story routine in our house is the highlight of my day and is so important to my children, aged 7 and 9, that there are genuine tears of disappointment from my youngest if we ever need to skip story time! I have a very strong conviction in the importance of reading aloud to children and find it devastating to read of studies that show that in most cases once children hit the age of 7 or are able to “read by themselves” parents stop reading to them.

I have heard parents claim that their children don’t want to be read to anymore and I do understand this, but I feel that it is up to the adult to make changes to the read aloud experiences offered to keep the children interested and stimulated.  As brilliant children’s book blogger Megan Daley says, “reading to children should be about fun, the magic of story and the love of gorgeous books.”  Megan’s blog post Raising a Reader is well worth checking out particularly for her Top 10 Tips For Raising a Reader.

That said, families are busy, children are tired or glued to a device and time for reading together can be hard to find.

In my role as a K-6 teacher-librarian I frequently hear a good number of children, even those who are younger than 7, tell me that no-one at home reads with them.  This breaks my heart and drives me to provide rich and varied read aloud experiences within my library program.
I pride myself on choosing stories to share that are relevant to the curriculum and other aspects of day to day life for my students, and in sharing them in meaningful ways by using voice and gesture to effect, by creating stimulating displays that link with the read-aloud, by using props such as puppets where fitting, and by providing an engaging follow up activity that extends the story experience. However, is one voice, no matter how varied I can make it, enough?  Perhaps it is, but I choose to provide a wider range of listening experiences for my students.

In August 2013 I stumbled upon a test site for a new Australian website, devoted to sharing quality children’s literature.  I quickly fell in love and pledged my support to this crowd-funded start-up venture.  Since then Story Box Library has become a staple part of my library program, enabling me to share truly amazing read alouds with my students.  As stated on their website “Story Box Library provides a vibrant, interactive experience via a diverse range of everyday Australian storytellers - sportspeople, musicians, grandparents, teenagers, comedians, actors, with varying accents and from different cultures - each sharing past and present book titles. The result is meaningful, entertaining readings that focus on both teller and tale.”  I can fully endorse this statement as I see my students at school, and my children at home, totally absorbed with the Story Box Library offerings and always imploring me to “play it again”.

If you engage with children regularly – at home or at school – then I highly recommend that you consider a subscription to this wonderful platform.  With over seventy stories now available, and regular updates to the collection Story Box Library enriches the read aloud experience in homes and schools.

Reading aloud? – Yes please!  What are your best tips to keep families reading aloud and enjoying books together? 
Jessica Marston, Parent & Teacher Librarian, Hagley Farm School

Editor's note. If you would like some guidance on reading to your children visit the CBCA Tas website and the tab for Guides to Parents.
All images used with permission. 

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