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Q. What is the big deal about Reading Aloud?
A: Reading Aloud should be an integral part of the daily routine of classrooms and homes. Read Alouds provide an opportunity to introduce children, from an early age, to high quality literature. Literature sparks children’s imagination and brings them into connection with the collective knowledge of human experiences and relationships. It acts as a window into worlds that children have not yet experienced for themselves; and it serves as a mirror for them to understand and examine their own lives.
Reading Aloud good literature also helps create a space in the classroom for productive TALK and discussion around the books, ideas and stories shared. Children are often discouraged from talking in many Indian classrooms. Research, on the contrary, suggests that classrooms that are rich with productive talk around shared ideas, create conditions for children to develop their oral language, vocabulary, comprehension and literary engagement and appreciation.
Reading Aloud good books also provides “models” for children to use in their own attempts at creating texts of different kinds. Teachers can use the books shared in the classroom to introduce children to different genres of writing (e.g., realistic fiction, fantasy, non-fiction, etc.), and can discuss the techniques and strategies that authors use to create texts of different kinds. In short, Reading Aloud is one of the most powerful, versatile and easy to access techniques to foster language development, critical thinking skills and a lasting love for literature!
Dr. Shailaja Menon currently works as faculty in the area of Language and Literacy, School of Education, Azim Premji University. She has her Ph.D. in language, literacy and culture from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and degrees in human development and psychology from MSU, Baroda, and Delhi University, respectively. Shailaja has worked in various educational settings in the US and in India. She has an abiding interest in imparting a love for language, literature and literacy to children, teachers and teacher educators and engages in a variety of initiatives that help promote these.