Recently a friend reminded me of a wonderful resource that I had used many years ago and then somehow forgot about. Back when I was in college I took a children’s literature course that introduced me to The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. At that time I was revisiting my childhood, reading piles of great children’s books as part of my homework for class. When this book was given to me way back then I was thrilled to have a resource that reviewed some of the best books available to read with children.
Of course, I had a very limited vision at that time and only saw it as a resource to further prepare me to be a classroom teacher. Several years later I again revisited this book as I decided to homeschool my boys. Then over the last decade, I somehow lost track of this great resource.
Today, with my brand new copy — thanks to that friend I mentioned earlier, I am sitting in the library tracking down some great books to read with my boys. If you’ve never heard of The Read-Aloud Handbook I would encourage you to get your hands on a copy. The author spends the first half of the book talking about the need for and the mechanics of reading aloud. He includes some information about how to choose age-appropriate titles and some advice about dos and don’ts. He also spends some time encouraging silent reading and talks about how to set up a climate that fosters all types of reading.
All this information is great but the best part of the book is the 115 pages devoted to book lists and short summaries of 1,000 titles that he recommends for reading aloud. Of course, as with any list of recommendations, you will find books (as I have) that won’t be appropriate for your family but it’s a simple matter just to skip those titles. The author does make mention of the fact that he has issues with what he calls “religious censorship” and makes it clear that children should have more control over what they read than perhaps some families are comfortable with.
Still, The Read-Aloud Handbook is a great resource for parents and will give you some wonderful ideas about what to read next with your children.