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READ to/with Your Children
(excerpt from The Read-Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease)

Upon investigation, I learned that Derek’s mother did not start reading to him when he was three. Beginning with the day he was born, she did not let a day go by without a story—often more than one. She began with Jack Prelutsky’s * Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young, along with nursery rhymes … by age three he was ready for his very first novel. By the age of four, he had taught himself to read. Not with a commercial phonics program, however. One thing can be said in favor of such products; they’re right when they claim, “There are only forty-four sounds in the English language.” And all of those forty-four sounds—every ending, blending, and diphthong—can be found in Good Night Moon, Make Way for Ducklings and Charlotte's Web. …

Now I want you to jump ahead to the day Derek sat down at the kindergarten learning table for the first time. Think about the dozen novels he’d heard by that day; the thousand picture books he’d heard, as well as the ones he’d read himself; and the tens of thousands of words he knew from all those readings. And then I want you to think about the child on his left and the one on his right—who, if they were typical American kindergarten children, had heard no novels and only a handful of tired picture books over the last five years. Which child had the larger vocabulary with which to understand the teacher? Which one had the longer attention span with which to work in class? … all anyone needs—is a free public library card and the determination to invest her mind and time in her child’s future. The investment can be as small as fifteen minutes a day.

(* See also: Sing a Song of Popcorn, and check out --
Jack Prelutsky's book for older children! -- The Random House Book of Poetry for Children)

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