Friday, November 9, 2007

Read Aloud & Baby Einstein

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx

"Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read."
— Marilyn Jager Adams

Story 1

I observed a fascinating scene the other day at Mountain Valley Middle School. It was library time for the eight graders in social studies teacher Zack Thompson's class. Students were exploring the books in the library, having the opportunity to choose what they wished to read. I was sitting at one side of the room finishing some work up on my laptop as I caught Zack pick up what I believe was Robert McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal, which he started quietly reading aloud to a couple of young ladies. As he read, other students gathered around him, looking on and listening quietly. I was struck by the connection and appreciation that showed in their faces as Zack read. He had them mesmerized with this very simple act. There was enchantment in this scene, with these tall adolescents drinking in this read-aloud experience. Moral of story: We are never too old to be read to by someone else, and it isn't just the "information" . . . it's the human connection.

Story 2

Many parents and grandparents have purchased one or more of the Baby Einstein video series with the thought that these pleasant and colorful presentations would help develop the abilities of infants. I am one of them. When my children were young, I recall reading that new-borns found the colors red, blue, and yellow particularly appealing . . . so wanting my children to develop as optimally as possible, I made sure there were mobiles and other objects that would make the environment as stimulating as possible.

It appears now according to a recent study that perhaps the use of the Einstein videos can actually harm a child's development. Who would have thought? Well actually, in the end, perhaps it has to do more with human closeness or bonding being such an important ingredient in learning. Moral: We can't plop our children in front of machines for endless hours, no matter how colorful and engaging, and expect great outcomes.

How do we stay connected to our kids?

What do we lose by moving learning to machines?

Have any recommendations for read-aloud books?

Read Aloud Resources
Alliance for Children: Computers and Children

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