Running Head: Sharing Literature Sharing Literature with Young Children Vanessa Rayburn September 4, 2011 Sharing Literature Having the opportunity to share wonderful books with children is the single-most important reason I began my career in early childhood. Among my fondest childhood memories is being read to by my father. He instilled in me a love for books of all kinds, especially picture books, which I found to be magical. Reading was relaxing and enjoyable, as well as exciting and inspiring. It allowed me to use my imagination to take journeys without ever leaving home. As a teacher, I wanted to share this experience with children.
Sharing great literature with young children is a journey itself. Authors Giorgis and Glazer state “children who enjoy and value literature will continue to read and will find a lifelong source of emotional and intellectual enrichment. ” (2010) However, it is not as simple as just reading a book. How books are shared is as important as the sharing. According to Giorgis and Glazer, books should be shared “in a way that invites children to enter into the experience wholeheartedly. ” (2010) Here I will share examples of specific strategies that engage children and make the experience quite meaningful.
Taking the time to help children explore and enjoy illustrations is a good way to take advantage of their strong visual-spatial skills, and it is a great way to enhance the overall experience of reading. Author Mary Jalongo tells us that “the illustrations in picture books help children decode words,” and we should “guide them in searching the illustrations for cues for reading the text. ” (2007) Further, she states that “children will be more interested in a book if they have made an investment in trying to understand it. Exploring and interpreting the illustrations help children make this important investment in reading. Sharing Literature Helping a child explore the illustrations in a book before reading it is known as taking a “picture walk. ” I call it “talking through the book” because my students and I discuss each illustration together during Story Time. This “picture walk” can be a valuable tool in building a child’s confidence and increasing fluency. According to the web site Reading to Kids, “the ‘picture walk’ can encourage the children’s participation in group discussion and also improve their comprehension of the story. (2002) A second strategy for sharing literature with young children is the familiar read-aloud. Every adult who has ever loved a child has enjoyed reading a beloved book to them. What makes it so special? The answer to that question is as unique and individual as we are. More than special, what makes a read-aloud so beneficial? Reading a story aloud can help engage children in active listening and help them develop the skills they need to be successful readers. In writing for the web site Reading to Kids, Educator Susan Thibodeaux makes this compelling argument: Reading aloud at any age serves multiple purposes: provokes children’s curiosity about text; conveys an awareness that text has meaning;demonstrates the various reasons for reading text; exposes children to the “language of literature,” which is more complex than the language they ordinarily use and hear; provides an opportunity to teach the problem-solving strategies that effective readers employ; models adults’ interest in and enjoyment of reading” (2005)
Sharing Literature Choosing the appropriate book for reading aloud is very important. Dr. Pat Feehan recommends “participation books” because they “invite the listener to clap along with the text, repeat an often repeated phrase in the story, sing along, or make some sound effects. ” (2011) King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey and Don Wood is one of my absolute favorite books to read aloud. Not only are the illustrations magnificent, but the repeating phrases demand that children repeat them in the character’s voices, making the story hilarious and irresistible!
What makes it even better is that a child is the hero in the end. Our love and enthusiasm for a book can be contagious and make the experience more special for children. Exposing children to poems, songs, and rhymes is yet another good way to share literature with them. Best practice suggests that displaying the words prominently in the classroom allows children to follow along as they are sung or read. (CLAS, 1996) Although they may not be able to actually read every word, a pointer can be used to help them follow along.
Inviting them to read, sing, create new verses, and even dance enhances the experience. When children are involved in the process of reading in a variety of ways, it broadens their knowledge, strengthens their skills, and builds their confidence. As educators, caregivers, and parents, we can have a tremendous impact on children’s early literacy experiences. Knowing several strategies for sharing literature with them gives us valuable tools with which we can help them tackle the work of reading.
As a result, we have the power to transform it into an enjoyable experience children can enjoy throughout their lives. Sharing Literature References: CLAS, Emergent Literacy Instructional Program and Support Services (1996), Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood, Macomb, IL, http://clas. uiuc. edu/fulltext/cl03407/cl03407. html Feehan, P. , PhD, Tips for Sharing Picture Books with Young Children (pdf), http://www. libsci. sc. edu/storytelling/techniques/readaloudresources. htm Giorgis, C. , and Glazer, J. Literature for Young Children: Supporting Emergent Literacy, Ages 0-8, 6th Edition, 2010, Pearson Learning Solutions, pp. 3 ; 53, http://online. vitalsource. com/books/0558582567 Jalongo, M. R. , Weaving Picture Books throughout the Day, October, 2007, http://www2. scholastic. com Reading to Kids, The Picture Walk, 2002, http://readingtokids. org/ReadingClubs/TipPictureWalk. php Thibodeaux, S. , How to Engage Children in Active Listening, 2005, http://readingtokids. org/ReadingClubs/TipActiveListening. php