Experts say 20 minutes of read-aloud time is the “magical number” for young children, writes Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic in a New York Times parenting blog. “It does all kinds of crazy-good things for kids — develops their vocabulary, makes them love books and stimulates them to ask sometimes-impossible-to-answer questions about life.” But, she’s tired of reading aloud to her 3-year-old son.
Take Richard Scarry’s books, which I adored growing up. (Please. They’re on the floor behind the bookshelf.)
In Richard Scarry’s world, there is a lot to look at, but not a lot to read, and when there’s not a lot to read, you have to make up things. I could go that route, and I probably should go that route, but since I am a writer by profession, having to write aloud someone else’s book to my kid at the end of a long day kind of ticks me off.
My math professor husband, who loves a good counting book, has his own Richard Scarry gripe: “The Best Counting Book Ever” is not a good counting book. “The first 40 pages are devoted to the numbers 1 to 20,” he says. “Even if you just count up to each number once and turn the page, by the time you get to the number 10, you’ve really counted to 55! Getting to 20 roughly quadruples the number we’ve effectively counted to — in general, it’s a quadratic growth function. When he’s older, I’ll explain that we didn’t always have time to count to 1,050.”
Curious George is “dull and insipid,” she writes.
A friend can’t stand Goodnight Moon.
In The Read-Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease, advises: “Don’t read stories that you don’t enjoy yourself. Your dislike will show in the reading, and that defeats your purpose.”
I read my daughter Goodnight Moon — or recited it from memory — every night for years. It’s supposed to put you to sleep.
We also read a second book of her choice. I unfondly remember a Strawberry Shortcake book. And I probably could recite Big Dog, Little Dog from memory too. “Fred and Ted were friends. Fred was big. Ted was little.” And it went on.
Allison was reading fluently before she started kindergarten. When did I stop reading aloud to her? When did we give up Goodnight Moon?