Many parents understand the joy of reading to their children. The bedtime
story is an institution in myriad homes.
There are many reasons to include chapter books in your repertoire when
you read to your children.
* This builds listening skills. Since there are usually few pictures, children
have to fill in the pictures with their own imagination. Television and
movies are primarily visual by comparison, so this helps to balance the
visual with listening.
* The vocabulary and language are generally very rich. Exposure to new
words and ways of putting them together is helpful to young children who
are just learning how to read and write.
* Itís an activity that families can share and make part of their common
* The best-written stories touch on values many parents will want to reinforce
with their children: friendship, courage, adventure, perseverence through
* It leads to reading as a choice activity for children.
I have a story that supports the last example. At a presentation I gave
to parents, a mom told me that her second grade daughter didnít choose
reading as an activity. She wondered if I had an idea that could help.
I suggested that mom choose a chapter book to read to her daughter at bedtime.
Mom told me that they usually read in bed starting at 8:00 and then turned
lights off at 8:30. I suggested that mom then offer a choice to her daughter.
When 8:30 came, she could either turn off the lights and go to sleep or,
if she wanted to continue reading, she could continue reading on her own
until 9:00. There arenít many children who can resist the opportunity to
delay their bedtime by another half-hour.
The idea worked. Her mom emailed me a few weeks later to tell me that her
daughter was now hooked on these chapter books. What had begun as a way
for the seven-year-old to get away with an extra half hour of being awake
transformed into a new way of spending her waking hours during other parts
of the day.
This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents.