What to Read When: ... || The years pass too quickly...
Written: Sep 15, 2009 (Updated Sep 15, 2009)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Incredibly rich, incredibly loving, definitely worth reading, owning, and using.
Cons:Hmmm. None that come immediately to mind. Meets it target goal squarely.
The Bottom Line: Incredible resource for anyone wanting to shape the future of any young reader. Or to 'create' young readers. A book full of memories recalled and memories yet to be crafted.
"In your own lives at home, you can create rituals for reading aloud with all your children along with rituals for reading aloud with each individual child. ... The ritual of reading with one of your children gives you the chance to consider the beauty and mystery of this particular child. ...many memorable rituals are also created out of ordinary moments, those regular, predictable times we have with our children every day. Reading aloud stamps the seal of the extraordinary on a day rushing by like any other."
Pam Allyn has an obvious passion for words and books. She melds that passion with an equal love of children to fuel her life's work of fostering and promoting the growth of children through literacy and learning about themselves, their family, and the world through books and reading.
What to Read When: The Books and Stories to Read With Your Child and All the Best Times to Read Them is just a small resting point in her life. I am sure there is much more to come from her.
At the heart of this book is the belief that reading aloud to ones child/children is the best way to truly plant and nourish a love of reading that will last a lifetime. Coursing under this love of reading will also grow a pathway for communicating with your child through the rest of your years. Through your choice of characters, stories, and books you share your personal values and morals with a child who may face vastly different choices and values 'out there' in the real world.
● Part I: The Power of Reading Aloud begins to outline her reasons "why we must read to and with our children." Her ten reasons are ones we all encounter at different times as we choose books for ourselves. She simply expands on them and stresses how these same reasons influence our children and how we can use them to guide them in their reading.
She then breaks down the basic "keys to helping your child become a life-long reader."
R = Ritual
E = Environment
A = Access
D = Dialogue
Each idea is discussed in turn. Together they build a solid foundation for drawing maximum value from the rest of the book and all your future 'reads'.
She then addresses some "'frequently asked questions" about reading aloud with a child:
• "Should I give rewards to my child for reading?"
• "How can I encourage my child to read more?"
• "I don't really like to read. How can I encourage a love of reading in my child if I don't like it myself?"
• "My child seems to be reading below her grade level. When should I worry and what should I do to help her move ahead?"
...and several other related questions.
All of her discussion and suggestions are on point and 'most helpful'.
She concludes by discussing fifteen 'landmark books.' Those you might consider 'usual suspects' are rounded up here: Madeline, Make Way for Ducklings, Goodnight Moon and other noted books. Surprising to me is the inclusion of the Harry Potter series here. It would be interesting to see if she feels the same way about them ten or twenty years from now.
● Part II: What to Read Aloud at Every Age begins the exploration of specific books by chronological age, from Birth to Age Two through Ten Years Old.
But first is a brief explanation and exercise in 'reading aloud' ...a skill that is often assumed to be innately gifted to parents, grandparents, and others. She outlines some basic approaches that will get you started on the right path and allow your own style to evolve as you and your child enjoy these moments together.
Dividing the recommended books into chronological groupings allows the reader to focus on their child at specific ages. Each age section is divided into several groupings of interest for a particular age and a handful or more of specific books for each topic. The emphasis here is not on the specific titles but explaining the purpose of each topic and how it relates to that age group.
As I read, the topics and featured books meshed nicely with my memories of my own children at the various ages. Some are featured in the next section and others not.
● Part III: The Emotional "When": Fifty Essential Themes section dominates the book in both page numbers and value to the reader ...and, ultimately, the child.
In the introduction to this section Allyn emphasizes the need for the adult to match specific books with "your child's emotional development (rather) than his or her chronological age." She 'rates' each book selection with an E for 'emerging', a D for 'developing', or an M for 'maturing'.
The breadth of topics is incredible and the discussion and suggestions for each is equal in depth.
A few random topics covered: Adoption, A Bad Day, Bullying and Hurtful People, Death, Feelings About School, Learning New Things, Loving Music, Making A Mistake, A New Baby, Spirituality, Your Body, and, the last category, Your Own Category, where she encourages you to think of your own "really important category" and "your favorite books that would fit inside" it.
Within each of these fifty categories are books suitable for readers across the chronological and emotional ages as defined above. Each has a brief sentence or two describing the book and its value to the topic and ultimately to you and your child. Many have a longer Talk About It section that highlights a bit more about the book and offers questions to share in discussing the book with your child.
● An oh-so-short Conclusion and Index complete the book.
The Bottom Line
"This is all we can do: sit down and read to our children and give them stories that might teach them ... hope, courage, imagination, and possibility. So that when they step up for their (HS) diploma, or have their hearts broken, or reach a hand to someone who needs help, or struggle through hard times, they will never be alone.
And neither will you."
This review in no way meets my personal challenge of writing 'lean-n-mean'. This book is simply too rich; too loving; too important to your child, to you, to the future readers of the world to rush through.
Pam Allyn lays her heart bare in the pages of this book. She shares her love remembered of her parents, her love for her own children, her love for every child who dreams of tomorrow, of the future, of places visited ...if only in the pages of a book.
I would urge any parent of a young child of any age to pick up What to Read When: The Books and Stories to Read With Your Child and All the Best Times to Read Them. I would urge any reader to consider it as a gift for any parent, grandparent, daycare teacher, or schoolteacher who might have the loving choice/opportunity to read to a young person. It will be a gift that multiplies a thousand times over in every ear, every heart, and every mind that it touches.
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