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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Give kids books — and read aloud!

May 21, 2007

I started working with a third grader at the beginning of the school year. Her parents were concerned about her reading; her teacher said that the child was not up to grade level. And it's been my pleasure to tutor Krissie. I've learned a lot.

At the end of each session, I read aloud to her.

One of the early books I read (it was something that I hoped she would soon read independently) was a Capital Mystery -- #5 in the series entitled, Who Broke Lincoln's Thumb? (Random) by Ron Roy. As I read, Krissie kept looking at me rather than at the book.

"Krissie, I thought you were going to follow along in the book."

"I was," she said. "But are you reading or are you telling me the story?"

Well, one of the first things she taught me is never to take anything for granted. I learned that Krissie, like many children, hadn't realized that words tell stories.

Another is that reading aloud is powerful.

Even if the book is not great literature. Even if the reader outgrows the book once they master its words, figure out its plot, and recognize its formula.

I still read aloud at the end of every session, though I don't expect Krissie to follow along any more. The simple act of reading aloud itself is enough of an influence. Krissie reads with more expression – often quite dramatically now.

And most important, she chooses books to read by herself – often starting with the one we just finished together.

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"If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book." —

J.K. Rowling