Thursday, May 23, 2013

Reading Aloud

This post is directed more toward those of you who are - or are likely to become - parents, so if this condition doesn't apply, you may want to just move on and come back for Cartoon Saturday.

I read this very interesting article the other day on The Atlantic website: "There Are Plenty of Reasons Why Parents May Read More With Their Daughters." It drew my interest because one of my favorite pastimes is reading to children, and because reading to one's children is a multi-win activity ... it helps them learn the language, it provides opportunities for quality time to cuddle.

My own parents, and particularly my father, were world-class readers. Dad's readings were always fun and exciting, using different voices for each character, adding sound effects, and twisting some of the text into puns or clever malaprops (such as the book in which the characters Gaston and Josephine became "Gas Bomb" and "Josie-pheme"). When I read to my grandchildren, I tend to read the same way, much to their often frustrated delight ("no, Opa, that's not right!") ...

But, getting back to the Atlantic article by Nanette Fondas, why do we read more with our daughters than with our sons? There are a lot of theories, some of which deal with sexual stereotypes; Ms Fondas writes that

"... parents may be following cultural scripts and unconscious biases that suggest they should read with their daughters, and have active play with sons ... It is just more costly to provide a unit of reading to a boy than to a girl because the boy doesn't sit still, you know, doesn't pay attention ..."

Well, I think that it's entirely possible to get a boy to sit still long enough to listen to a well-read story. Personal experience shows that it's just as hard to get my granddaughters to sit still as it is to get any of my grandsons to sit still ... but just as rewarding when it succeeds.

Reading to small children is one of the most rewarding of activities. It combines teaching, learning, entertainment, and physical cuddling. The joy of listening to a child laugh at a well-told story is a reward beyond all price. Reading aloud is, in general, a rewarding activity. If I may engage in a little back-patting, I think I can do world-class readings of poems like "Casey at the Bat," "The Raven," and "The Fool's Prayer," among others ... not all suitable for the smallest of children, but fun for older audiences.

Have a good day Read more, both to yourself and to your children, both the boys and the girls. They'll love it and so will you ... and so will their children.

See you back here for Cartoon Saturday.



eViL pOp TaRt said...

I enjoyed being read to by my parents. Miss thosedays.

Duckbutt said...

My favorites for reading to my children were "The Three Musketeers" and "The Cremation of Sam McGee." Some might think that the latter was inappropriate for a preschool daughter, but she loved the story, rhyme, and illustrations.

Bilbo said...

Angel - all children love being read to. So do some adults as well!

Duck - "The Cremation of Sam McGee" is another one of my favorites for reading out loud. The rhyme and rhythm are perfect for oral presentation, and I think any child would love it.

KathyA said...

Interesting...I think I read less to our son because it was so hard reading to a moving target! Although all three did enjoy the Richard Scary books, particularly the ones featuring the Gold Buggie.

Big Sky Heidi said...

My mother or father continued to read to me until I was in junior high. I didn't want to give that quiet time together up.

Nice happy memories.

Dad read me the "Cremation of Sam McGee" too, so Duckbutt was not alone.