This post is part of a special edition of The Little Lit Book Series, hosted by Avery and Augustine. Today, we’re sharing quotes and highlights from Jim Trelease’s The Read Aloud Handbook. For more read-aloud inspiration, favorite read-alouds, and reflections on this book, join us, here!
As you read to a child, you’re pouring into the child’s ears (and brain) all the sounds, syllables, endings, and blendings that will make up the words she will someday be asked to read and understand. And through stories you are filling in the background knowledge necessary to understand things that aren’t in her neighborhood—like war or whales or locomotives.” –Jim Trelease, The Read Aloud Handbook
Reading aloud has many benefits, many of which Jim Trelease outlines and celebrates in the The Read-Aloud Handbook. This invaluable resource, first published in the 1980s (updated and revised seven times), not only contains research, practical how-to tips and strategies, and inspiring anecdotes, but a treasury of read-aloud books. There’s a reason it’s called a TREASURY, a 100+ page categorized and annotated guide of diverse read-aloud suggestions from classic to modern titles. Whether you are a seasoned teacher or parent who already believes in the power of reading aloud or a newbie, this easy-to-read conversational style book will refresh, inspire, and equip you for your home or classroom read aloud journey.
Language is fascinating. One of the common denominators often talked about in my linguistics and language acquisition grad classes was input. While many factors go into acquiring and producing language — first, second, or beyond — a variety of spoken and written input is important especially in the early stage stages of learning.
One easy and enjoyable way to provide input is reading aloud, the topic of today’s special edition of the #littlelitbookseries. Conversation certainly has its place but read-aloud print is what really primes a child’s or student’s language and vocabulary development for the future.
Jim Trelease shares some important figures in The Read-Aloud Handbook:
[Conversation] consists of the five thousand words we use all the time, called the Basic Lexicon. (Indeed, 83 percent of the words in normal conversation with a child come from the most commonly used thousand words, and it doesn’t change much as the child ages.) Then there are another five thousand words we use in conversation less often. Together, those ten thousand words are called the Common Lexicon. Beyond that ten thousand mark are the “rare words,” and these play a critical role in reading as we grow older. The eventual strength of our vocabulary is determined not by the ten thousand common words but buy how many rare words we understand. If we don’t use these rare words very often in conversation, where do we find them?” Trelease cites that a children’s book contains more than three times as many rare words than regular conversation.
I’ll leave you with an example of rich vocabulary from a book by one of our favorite children’s book authors, Leo Lionni. In this selection from The Alphabet Tree, an ant says to his friend, “One day the breeze became a strong gust and the gust became a gale. The letters clung to the leaves with all their might — but some were blown away, and the others were very frightened. When the storm had passed, they huddled together in fear, deep in the foliage of the lower branches.”
Note the words breeze, gust, gale, clung, and foliage. All part of a picture book designed to be read aloud with young children! 📚✨
For more read-aloud resources and information on Jim Trelease and his work, visit trelease-on-reading.com — Happy Reading!