The following article was submitted by Lisa Pike, a Materials Management Libararian at the Manitowoc Public Library.
March is National Reading Month and as such it has special days to celebrate throughout. One of these days happens to be International Read To Me Day, which takes place on Sunday, March 19. It’s a day where children are encouraged to ask the adults in their lives to read to them. You, yourself, may remember your family or even your teachers reading aloud to you on a regular basis. Maybe even now you read aloud to your own children or students to pass along the joy of reading.
Reading aloud and sharing stories can be beneficial for all ages from the very young to the very old. The practice of reading aloud has many virtues—both educational and relational—in building connections with family and peers. For young children, reading aloud has shown to improve both vocabulary and comprehension of the material that’s read. The five big practices of early literacy are: Talk, Sing, Write, Play, and Read. Reading aloud can touch upon every one of these while also incorporating the simple fun of sharing a book. It can also create emotional connections between children and caregivers when sharing stories, such as a regular bedtime book.
As children grow older and take on more responsibilities, it can act as a calming influence, providing transition from stressful parts of the day. Sharing books this way can also introduce these kids to authors or titles that are unfamiliar and spark an interest in reading for entertainment. Even adults can enjoy the benefits of reading aloud and sharing stories. The one-on-one interaction that it provides helps flex communication skills. The practice also helps exercise different levels of memory, as well as stave off early-onset dementia. The more active and involved a brain is, the better it will continue to work long-term.
So, how do you get started? First, make sure you are picking a book that is entertaining for the age of your audience. If you’re reading to younger children, be sure that the book has plenty of colorful and detailed illustrations to help convey the story. If you’re reading to middle graders, teens, or adults, make sure that the book will be a compelling when it’s being read aloud and that the topic or genre is one of interest. If you take into consideration all these factors, reading a book aloud should be successful. It may even provide further discussion from the listeners or the desire to read another book aloud in the future. Maybe even with them reading the next book to you!
Manitowoc Public Library provides many ways to start this valuable activity:
- TumbleBooks—This service offers a selection of animated eBooks that children can interact with and improve their vocabulary and pronunciation.
- Certified Therapy Dog Reading Sessions—Readers can sign up for monthly, timed sessions with local therapy dogs and practice their skills and build their confidence in a no-judgment environment. This activity has proven to be a very popular program over the last few years and continues to grow.
- Family Read Aloud Challenge—Available through the Beanstack app, you’re required to read six books of at least 80 pages aloud per year with your family. When this task is completed, you’ll earn three books from the Library for completing the challenge. The challenge is for ages 4-17, so as long as anyone in the family is reading aloud to someone else, it counts.
- 1000 Books Before Kindergarten—The goal of this challenge is to boost early literacy through regular reading before children even enter school. For every 100 books read, children receive a small incentive and get to add a sticker to their initial on the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree in the Youth Department. Participants can track their progress through the Beanstack app or on provided paper trackers.
- All-Ages Summer Reading Program—Starting on Monday, June 12, this is another great opportunity to exercise those reading skills and prevent the Summer Slide while awaiting the new school year. Stay tuned for more SRP details coming in May!
There is more detailed information for these great programs at our website, www.manitowoclibrary.org.
So, for this International Read To Me Day, first find a great book either on your shelves or ours. Then, find a cozy chair to gather your family or students around and share some fantastic stories through reading aloud!