Happy Read Aloud Day!

That moment when you bite into your bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado sandwich – on toasted bread, no less – and that incredible flavor combination assaults your taste buds. For just a flash of a second, your sense of taste consumes your body. And it is heavenly. I know. I had this sandwich for lunch today. It was everything and more, after a morning of cleaning the kitchen and swimming laps at the pool. Plus, I was with a good friend.

But wait, there’s more!

Tomorrow morning, I will wake up as the first light of the morning enters my bedroom window. In my morning fog, I know exactly what will happen: I’ll roll over and start thinking through my day, only to realize that my children don’t have school. Nobody in my house will need the usual early start, and I’ll have that moment. That wonderfully indulgent sensation that I can linger a second, even snooze a little longer, and not rush into the start of my morning. Bliss.

Here’s another one:

Everything. Everything got crossed off on my to-do list today. A compulsive list-maker, there is nothing I like better than a list to keep me on track for the day, except, perhaps, a completely crossed off list before the day’s end. This is serious satisfaction.

What are your moments? Those that leave you fulfilled, take your breath away, and/or make other concerns, troubles, and worries simply vanish, even if only for an instant?

I’m betting that for most children, they feel overwhelmed with love and gratitude and extravagance when they’re read aloud to. A good book and a willing reader can transform an afternoon.

We know, however, reading aloud boosts all kinds of scores. And, of course, this makes tons of sense, doesn’t it? The average 1st grader might not be able to decode and read the word fortunate or enraged or impractical, but in the context of a story, could construe their meanings, broadening their vocabularies.

Children who are exposed to complex sentence structure, richly described settings, and cleverly crafted characters are more likely to write similarly, and, they’re more likely to expect quality literature moving forward.

While learning how to read is crucial, the ability to listen is, as well. Creating a world inside your head from the words you hear makes all kinds of connections in your brain. The luxury of listening to a story being read aloud affords you the ability to really grasp a story, to see the beginning, middle, climax, and conclusion.

Reading is hard work! Children understand literature at a much higher level than they are able to read themselves. Thus, they can accumulate all kinds of world knowledge, empathy, vocabulary, facts, and meaning from texts that are read aloud to them, while they take a break from the decoding and work of reading to themselves.

Yes, yes, we should read aloud to our peeps. It makes them smarter, wiser, more knowledgeable, worldlier, better writers, and better test-takers.

But, for me? It comes down to that bite of my bacon-lettuce-tomato-avocado sandwich. It is that feeling. That moment when you can forget about the birthday party you didn’t get invited to or how much you hate studying for spelling tests. You stop thinking about which one of your friends you’ll invite to a sleepover this weekend and why doesn’t Mrs. Jones call on you as much as you think she should.

Adults who read aloud to their children are giving them so much more than a boost educationally. They are essentially saying: You are important. So important that I’m going to stop what I’m doing and read to you. We will create this memory together – and we can talk about what happens in this book later, if we want to, or just soak in the words quietly together.

Have you ever tried to read aloud and fold the laundry? Or read aloud and text your aunt in Mississippi? Or read aloud and prepare for that meeting at work? Impossible. Reading aloud to a child means you are not multi-tasking. You are giving them your full attention.

And chances are? You’re reading aloud while snuggled on the couch or under that big fuzzy blanket. More than likely, you’re in close proximity, and anyone who believes in the 20-second hug will tell you that this nearness is both intimate and powerful.

Today is National Read Aloud Day. Read aloud to your children, please. These are the bursts, the moments, the instants you’ll never get back but will be loved and remembered.  Sure, you can do it so they further shine and excel in school. So they can someday be a great novelist or explain how the Slinky was invented. Or, so the two of you can laugh about that silly mouse who is just too loud. Or, because the dishes can wait. But, really, read to them because you love ‘em.

Keep Reading (aloud!),

Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

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