A Chapter-a-Day Keeps the Summertime Blues Away
Summer is the perfect time to introduce chapter books to your early readers. Choose a consistent time of day, maybe after lunch when everyone needs some quiet time, and read a chapter book together. Over the years my children and I have shared many adventures through the eyes of the characters in the Box Car Children series, the Little House on the Prairie Books, the Chronicles of Narnia and so many others. One of the benefits of reading chapter books together is that children learn the structure of a good story as they listen to the plot unfold day after day and see how the author builds character development from chapter to chapter. Let the children listen to you. Listening to the words flow gives your children the opportunity to comprehend new words as they hear them in context and to let their imagination follow the story unhindered. Children that have the experience of listening to a longer book from beginning to end will find it easy to transition to reading novels on their own as they become more confident readers.
If you are teaching a summer preschool or school age program, reading chapter books is a wonderful way to have a quiet time together after a long day of play and activity. If you choose a book and then find that it doesn't hold the children's attention, put that book away and choose another. Reading time should be a time where children feel that their time is well spent so choose books that are age appropriate and fit the interests of the class. It is tempting to play recorded books, and many of them are very well done, but it is important for the children to see adults model a love for reading and to hear them read. As the children listen to you read they hear what your voice does when you come to an end of a sentence or a question mark. They see how your voice shows excitement and other emotions. And since none of us read perfectly all of the time, they also see that it's alright if you make a mistake when you read and so they are less self conscious when they are called on to read aloud.
A bond is formed when we read with children. It gives us something to relate to together that transcends age and culture. One of my favorite things to hear is when one of my children comes to me and says, "I just finished this great book. You should read it, I know you'll love it."
This summer I'll be posting on a new batch of wondersome read-a- loud chapter books. If you're looking for a good read to get your summer reading habit started, check out the Reader Review on Hero, Second Class by Mitchell Bonds and be sure and read the sequel Hero in Hiding