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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Why reading aloud is a vital bridge to literacy | Books - The Guardian

Advice that children should still be read to as teenagers makes sense, as they learn the complex gear changes between speech and prose, according to Michael Rosen, writer and broadcaster who has produced many books for children and a few for adults, too.

A different vocabulary ... reading aloud.
Photo: Michele Constantini/Getty/PhotoAlto
I was very lucky to have been brought up in a household where my older brother and my father read out loud to me as a teenager. It was a form of conversation or entertainment. They were “hey-listen-to-this” moments, taking in Dickens, Hardy, Catch-22, Catcher in the Rye, the Molesworth books, newspapers, magazines, Konrad Lorenz’s science books, Alan Moorehead’s accounts of exploration and any random passage from their studies. Come to think of it, my father didn’t stop! In his 70s, when I was in my 40s, my father still read me the stories he wrote about his childhood. His intonation, his pronunciation of Yiddish, our cackling at his jokes live on.

This week, it was suggested that in order to foster a love of reading, parents and teachers should continue reading aloud to children well into their teen years. To get a handle on why doing so is important, we have to take a step back and look at something that is right in front of our noses but not always obvious.

The way we speak is very different from the way we write – especially from the way we write continuous prose. When we speak, we hesitate, we contract phrases (as with “wouldn’t’ve”), we repeat ourselves, we often leave gaps for others to fill in. Or we might just tail off...

Some books are better (and more fun) for reading out loud than others. One of the reasons we invented continuous prose was to lay out an argument, piling points on top of each other, weighing one view against another, even to invite the reader to look back at something earlier or later in a book. It can be tough going listening to this kind of writing if you don’t have the book in front of you. Ideal for reading out loud are things such as short stories, poems, plays, modern novels, journalism, texts of speeches, biography, and narratives connected with scientific discovery, history, geography and the arts. 
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Source: The Guardian