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How often do you share classic literature with your children?
If you haven’t already noticed,books are a very prominent feature in our home. We are always sharing books at various times through out the day. We don’t have a strict schedule over here, however every evening without fail before bed the entire family gets together to read several books.
I love classic literature anything from Little Women, to the Dialogues of Plato; adults and children’s literature alike. I can’t help but stop to read aloud passages that enjoy with my kids in passing moments. There are however a whole heap of classic books that are super for children under the age of five. For example The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, Jungle Book, The Little House In The Big Woods Series, Farmer Boy, Heidi, Aesops Fables, Andersens Fairy Tales, Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories and a whole heap of others.
The Benefit of Reading Classic Literature to Preschoolers
Not only are these stories and poems engaging and fun to read over and over again but they have so much value and knowledge to pass on as well. The language used in a lot of the older children’s classics help to expose younger ones to a broad, rich vocabulary; in contrast to some of the short picture books often presented to toddlers today. One of the benefits of this exposure is that children learn words that help them to communicate their ideas and express opinions and feelings more clearly.
Hearing words in context and discussing words that are new to us helps us all to improve our comprehension skills. This enables us to understand anything we read, be it fiction or non-fiction. According to infercabulary.com children “need to understand 98% of the words they read to understand what they are reading.” In other words growing the list of words that your preschooler knows, can say and understands will help them to make sense of stories and other texts they choose when they begin to learn to read.
All of that being said there are some more modern picture books that are still on my classics list. These include All of the Dr. Suess books, ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’, ‘What do you do with and idea’? series, The Lion Who Wanted To Love’ and a few other gems from Julia Donaldson. Again the list is extensive and these books usually have little nuggets of wisdom for children to carry with them into adulthood.
Classc Picture Books
Picture books often have rich colours and present their ideas in a more artistic format. They allow children to make sense not only of the words but to also comprehend a story based on what they are seeing visually.
Being able to asses and understand things such as body language, actions and facial expressions in real life are essential skills for social interaction. Pictures and illustrations are a great at exaggerating these features whilst also including more subtle details that open up the way for discussion with young ones.
One book that in my opinion is fantastic for this very thing is ‘Footpath Flowers’. This book has used zero words but it has a strong message about being aware of our surroundings, seeing the good and the beautiful where ever we go and passing that on to others. It is a moving tale and encourages the readers to discuss exactly what it is they are seeing.
Reading Chapter Books With Preschoolers
I’ve often been asked how I manage to get the kids to sit through chapter books at such a young age or how I get them interested in works such as Aesops Fables which can seem a little less colourful. The answer to this is simple:
I do NOT expect them to sit and listen to an entire chapter in one reading.
Although often they will listen to two or three, I understand that young children have short attention spans. I only read until they lose interest or quite often fall asleep. Breaking up our readings by stopping and letting them ask questions, discuss, imitate, act out scenes and ponder on what we’ve just read also helps. If we don’t continue our reading until the next day that’s fine. It is more important that the information is enjoyed and digested than i is for us to simply get through the text.
I choose our family read aloud based on things I know my children are interested in at the time; witches, dragons, fire engines or whatever it may be. The fact is these stories are steeped in fantasy, fun characters and events. If the little’s are quiet and listening I have no problem with them sitting and building with bricks or playing with something in their hands whilst I read. Yet these stories have snippets that make the children laugh and set their imaginations free. When you have a fantastic engaging story there is next to no effort required to keep their attention. Try it and I’m sure you’ll find, like I have done, that they’ll soon be requesting the next chapter.
I am sincerely excited and enthusiastic about the stories I am sharing with them.
When you are excited or passionate about something it shows and it’s catching. You know when someone talks to you about their lattest idea with animation and full energy? Somehow you can’t help but to get excited to. Well this is the exact same thing. When you are reading to your children sit up, use the full range of your voice, make sound effects, try accents or hand gestures and stop when you come across something that you really like and tell them about it. What do you like about it? Why? Let them interrupt and ask their own questions. Share related experiences from your past. Reading isnt just about what is written on the page it’s also about how it makes you feel and what it makes you think.
Finally, classic books serve as a launching platform into different areas of study. A single book can contain a 100+ different topics that you can explore with your young ones via crafts, games, activities, worksheets and even days out. You can create entire unit studies based around just one book.
Reading with you little one dosn’t have to be challenging or time consuming. It should however be frequent and consistent.
If you only have time to do one thing with your preschooler today, pick up a book and read!
If your still with me great beacue if you enjoyed reading through this but have childen who you just can seem to engage in story time then read this: How to Keep Your Children Engaged During Storytime.
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