Originally posted on my US News & World Report parenting blog (Aug 17)
WHAT IF I WERE TO START this blog post with the phrase, “In a great green room…,” ask you what the brown bear sees, or simply inquire as to what very hungry caterpillars eat? I’m willing to bet that most of you, as parents (not to mention grandparents, child care providers and early educators), would be able to finish the sentence and answer the questions without pause.
I imagine that for many of you, these ever-so-simple references would likely also conjure up the colorful images and happy memories that tend to go hand in hand with reading such beloved children’s books as Margaret Wise Brown’s, “Goodnight Moon;” or “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” written by Bill Martin, Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle; and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” written and illustrated by Carle. Yet all too often, I find that discussions about early literacy move away from what we all know and love about the experience of reading aloud with young children, and towards the more literal, academic advantages. That includes getting kids familiar with “sight words” – or commonly used words kids are encouraged to memorize, or know on sight; teaching them the sounds of letters; and all of the various other nuts and bolts of learning to read.
That’s not to say efforts focused on promoting early literacy and helping young children make the necessary connections between sounds, letters and words are without benefit. After all, learning to read affords children the ability to spend the rest of their lives reading to learn. There is no question that reading aloud with young children can facilitate their learning their ABCs and help set them up for reading and life success.