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Reading aloud is fun

Michael Rosen on Radio 4 - Word of Mouth

Today I had a listen to Michael Rosen’s radio show Word of Mouth on BBC4 through iplayer. Here is the blurb:

Michael Rosen takes another journey into the world of words, language and the way we speak. Everyone accepts that it is important for parents to read to their children, but, thanks partly to school literacy targets, many children actually spend more time reading to their parents. Furthermore, some parents suffer from ‘performance anxiety’ over their inability to ‘do the voices’ in stories, so, in these cases, what can be done to help keep storytelling alive?

Broadcast on: BBC Radio 4 Duration: 30 minutes Available until: 4:32pm Tuesday 21st April 2009

I have found it completely natural to read out loud to Milo, voices and all, but I would say that is because we are very much in our own little space and it is just us together and maybe Milo’s dad too. Plus, Milo is so little he can’t tell us if we are rubbish or not yet.

But, I have also found that sometimes when other people come round and either myself or Milo’s dad have to read him his story before nap time as part of his wind down, I think that is when we suddenly get very conscious of the sound of our own voices. We read a little quicker, don’t emphasise as much and don’t do the ‘voices’ as we normally would do. Silly really – it is only ever friends and family who watch us reading to him and they probably enjoy the process as much as we do.

As new parents, one thing we’ve found since starting to read to Milo at bedtime and nap time is how much we both enjoy listening to stories being read aloud. How soothing it is (maybe we are just a little tired a lot of the time!), and how much we have missed it. I can’t remember when my mum and dad stopped reading to me, but it did slowly fade out when I started to enjoy reading to myself at night time (and often past my bedtime, under the covers with a torch/nightlight).

So, take a listen to the show and then maybe take some time to read a favourite story aloud to a child you care about (or just to yourself or a friend – it’s fun!).

And if you can’t listen, here are some of the top things I learned from the show:

  • One reason that parents don’t read as much to their children, is because they are so busy listening to their children read to them, for school etc…
  • Reading gives an opportunity to talk about so many different things and objects than we would normally do in everyday conversation.
  • Reading together provides a unique interaction with your child and the chance to explain and discuss different things and difficult words.
  • You can make up your own stories and, to make this process less daunting, you can base characters on people in your child’s life, and on events that are familiar to them. It can be used to problem-solve, or even explain things that are going on in the news.
  • Making up your own story, telling one from your own childhood or telling a story that you have memorised and can improvise on, can create a greater connection between you and your child as there is no book as a potential barrier.
  • Do the voices! Children love seeing their parents being daft and enjoy them just having a go – it doesn’t matter if you think you are rubbish because your child won’t.
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