Will the book …?
- Inspire children to dream and to live out their dreams
- Take children outside themselves to experience something new
- Keep children on the edge of their chairs
- Stir children to feel emotions
- Encourage children to relate to the characters
Does the book have …?
- Funny parts that will make children laugh
- Rhythm and rhyme
For example, the books of Dr Seuss are famous for rhymes. His book Yertle the Turtle begins (please notice the rhyme at the end of each line)
On the far-away Island of Sala-ma-Sond,
Yertle the Turtle was king of the pond.
A nice little pond. It was clean. It was neat.
The water was warm. There was plenty to eat.
- Illustrations that are a pleasure to look at, make the book easier to understand, will capture children’s attention and prompt discussion
- A storyline that grabs children’s attention and sustains it
- The use of dialogue that allows us to use a variety of voices
For example, In Kayla & the Magical Tree, there is a girls’ voice, Kayla, and the voice of Gorf, a half frog, half human character.
Does the book …?
- present values that you want children to learn
- help children think about important values
The right book for one child may not be the right book for another child. This will vary according to interest, attention span, maturity level and language ability. A book that was right for a child last year (or even yesterday) may not be a good choice this year. One that was not a good choice last year may be a good choice this year as maturity level and interests change.
A related issue involves whether we should resist the temptation to always use books with happy endings, books that only show the beautiful, happy side of life. Maybe those are the right choice for very young children, but after a certain age, we should consider whether children are ready for a more realistic view of the world.
Once Suchen Christine Lim, a noted author of children’s books (and books for us older people too) attended a Read Aloud workshop that George co-presented. He read aloud Suchen’s book Granny which shows the close ties between a grandmother and granddaughter and the little girl’s sadness when her granny passes away. Some of the workshop participants had imaginative suggestions for changing the book’s ending so that the granny did not die. When George asked Suchen why she had decided to use a sad ending, she explained that most of her other children’s books had a happy ending, but she felt that children need to be prepared for life’s realities.
All languages are beautiful for reading aloud
Reading aloud is great to do in any language. The book you are reading now is in English, but reading aloud works for all the other languages too, just as long as there is something to read. So, if you and the children you read to are fortunate enough to know more than one language, please look for read aloud materials in all of those languages.
Dad reminder: You can start to read to your kids at ANY age. It’s fun for the kids and dad. It really is a dad duty!
– George Jacobs, Ph.D. and Wan Loh Inn, Ed.D.
Dr. George Jacobs, Ph.D. and Dr. Wan Loh Inn, Ed.D. are the authors of many books (including “The Read Aloud Guide”, textbooks for teachers and students, curriculum guides, and children’s storybooks).
Find out more about reading aloud to your kids.