It’s always fun to reconnect with old friends like a Christmas Carol, The Gift of the Magi, or a Visit from St. Nick. Reading together as a family doesn’t just build family unity and shared memories, it also develops strong literacy skills.
When we unpacked what always seems like a limitless supply of boxed Christmas gear at home this year, it’s been a trip down memory lane as I am sure it is for all of you. A favorite box for me is always the collection of Christmas books we have gathered over the years. It’s always fun to reconnect with old friends like a Christmas Carol, The Gift of the Magi, or a Visit from St. Nick. Reading together as a family doesn’t just build family unity and shared memories, it also develops strong literacy skills.
Reading aloud with children is one of the best ways to build stronger vocabulary, strengthen literacy skills, and build a love of reading. Even when students have become independent readers their skills can be increased and vocabulary expanded when exposed to more challenging material read to them. Typically a student’s comprehension ability will be 1-2 years ahead of their reading ability. Don’t let those older kids fool you, they still need read aloud. It encourages their advancement, you can model positive reading strategies, and they love the time with you. I strongly encourage you to build a family habit of reading aloud. Even a few minutes or pages before bed has an impact. Does it have to be every night? Of course not. We are realists but figure out the routine that works for you. Besides the academic benefit, it builds in settling time to improve better sleep which is honestly probably the best thing you can do for a productive school day.
This year we have decided that read aloud is so important in school that we have formalized our instructional read aloud program. All of our classrooms grades P4 through 5 have integrated a formal read aloud practice as part of daily instruction. For at least 15 minutes a day our teachers will read aloud with classes a series of chapter books/novels. Selections will be more challenging narratives than students can read independently to engage curious minds, expand vocabulary and model best reading practices. It builds a community of readers who can participate in a shared literary conversation on plot and character analysis.
Look out for more details about our read aloud initiative in the new year. Teachers will be communicating each classroom selection and we will welcome guest readers to support the program. I will be visiting all of the classrooms to lead read aloud throughout the winter.
I hope you all have enjoyed another beautiful week of advent as we prepare for Christmas.
Blessings and peace,
Ryan Killeen, Ed.D.