Sunday, April 21, 2013
Big Books for Little Kids (Answering the Why and When)
When my oldest was 4 years old, I started reading the girls Big Books. What I mean by Big Books is longer chapter books. I know this is normal for many parents to do, but it is not something I was used to. I was only read chapter books at school. Well, we are homeschooling, so guess what, we read chapter books aloud at home. Makes sense. But even if you aren't homeschooling, I would like to encourage you to read chapter books aloud to younger children. No they don't understand all of it. No they don't have the attention span to sit through as much as you may want to read (especially if you enjoy reading). So why would you want to go to the trouble of reading Big Books aloud? Here are my reasons:
1. Big Books introduce new VOCABULARY to little ones. It always amazes me how much of a story kids will listen to when they don't know all the words. They still understand what is going on too; just ask them! My girls frequently will ask what a specific word is while reading, and even if they choose not to ask at the time, they have been introduced to it. They have now heard the word, and heard it used in proper context. Next time they hear it, it will not be completely foreign to them.
2. Big Books also increase exposure to new and different SITUATIONS. The first big book we read was The Tale of Despereaux (guess I was a bit over zealous with a 3 and 4 year old). We encountered prison, neglectful, abusive parents, and parental death; as well as forgiveness. We encountered a lot of complex situations that they have not dealt with in a safe home environment where we could discuss anything that needs to be discussed.
3. Big Books help build RELATIONSHIPS. If you are spending so much of your time with your child reading and discussing important aspects of the book, you can't help but build the relationship you have with your child. All that discussion can help instill values and good character traits in them too.
4. Big Books help improve your child's ATTENTION SPAN. Maybe at first your child won't sit for a long period of time, but if you find a book that interests them they will start. I know when we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory we got through half the book in the first sitting because the girls were that interested. The more you do it the longer they will pay attention. Not sure they are paying attention? Ask them what is happening or to draw you a picture of what they remember.
5. Big Books help improve your child's IMAGINATION. Unlike television, movies, or even picture books that show kids exactly what things look like, big books make them imagine it. Few pictures and usually black and white pictures mean they have to see the picture in their mind. .They have to imagine the scene the author is describing, the sounds, the smells, the colors.
Now you are thinking, I can see the benefits of reading Big Books to my kids, but how in the world will I find the time. This can be hard even if you are home with the kids all day long! Here are the times we have found will work. Obviously we do not do these everyday, but we usually pick one and use it even if it is just to get through a chapter.
1. Obvious one first, BEDTIME! Many of you are probably already reading before bed. Just read a chapter of a big book instead of a picture book. Easy!
2. If your children are still young enough that you give them a BATH take advantage of the time to read them a big book. They can't go anywhere, but they don't have to sit still and listen either. They can listen and splash around at the same time! Older kids may even enjoy audio books if they are taking a bath.
3. Speaking of audio books, listen in the CAR! Everyone can enjoy big books in the car. Many libraries have audio books that you can check out or here is a great site where you can find free audio books.
4. Are your kids slow eaters? Mine are! If you finish your food first you can read to them at MEALTIME! Why not use the extra time and keep them amused (and not playing with their food).
5. This is actually our favorite because it makes something my girls don't enjoy much more enjoyable, read while they CLEAN. So they pick up their toys while I read to them. This is actually helpful for my oldest as she is quite fidgety anyhow. She still won't sit for books (at almost 6); she wiggles and squirms and stands and wiggles some more. Cleaning gives her something to do while listening.
So now you know why and when to read Big Books; head to the library and get some!
Here are some great books lists to check out too:
Books for Young Readers
Great Chapter Books for Early Elementary
Top Ten Chapter Books to Read in 2013
67 Books Every Geek Should Read to Their Kids Before Age Ten
215 Read-Alouds for Elementary Aged Children
**Disclaimer: I have not read all the books on all these lists. Please make sure you review any unfamiliar books before reading them to your children! **