Hearing my dad tell stories was the beginning of my love affair with books. My favorite tale was the story of my grandfather who had a feisty temperament. He was hauling logs off his property, clearing the land for farming with a horse on an icy Minnesota November. The horse stopped, refusing to move. Grandpa tried yelling, but the horse refused to budge. Grandpa lit a fire under him; all that did was melt the icicles on the mare’s belly. Grandpa, with his temper at high tide, bit the horse’s ear. It worked.
I can still hear my dad’s voice – his dramatic inflections, long pauses, and rhythmic beat – as I read.
According to Thomas Newkirk in his book The Art of Slow Reading, in our “culture of distraction,” we have lost the importance of hearing the language or the voice of the author. In fact, it was the oral tradition from which writing evolved—the storytellers passed on traditions and the tales of their people, both real and imagined.
Newkirk suggests that to help young people improve their reading comprehension they need to hear the true voice of any text as it addresses the reader, conveys the presence of a teller and connects to the oral tradition from which writing evolved. Readers need to “hear the ideas and feelings of the writer.” He adds that “auditorizing helps the reader to engage in important reading comprehension strategies when they hear the words.”
Important reading strategies that can be improved by hearing the text are:
- Asking questions
- Making Inferences
- Recognizing the Significance
5 Ways Parents Can Support Their Child’s Reading
- Selecting a favorite text
- Marking the text to remind yourself to pause, emphasize, lower or raise your voice As Robert Frost says, “Reading is drama or it is nothing.”
- Reading the text aloud, which helps to “internalize a voice for the text” and helps them enter into a difficult text.
- Having your children select a favorite text to read and prepare to read aloud
- Making oral reading a part of every day
As Newkirk reminds us, “all these practices return reading to its roots as a communal and oral act storytelling.”
What additional questions do you have about helping your child with reading? Ask your questions in the comment section below.
Written by Darcy Perreault