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Read-alouds over their heads


amyinva
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When starting AO, or just reading older works to kids for whom the vocabulary/writing style is not something they are used to, do you just keep reading and eventually they adjust? Especially with the younger kids. Or do you try to explain everything? How long does it take for them to get used to listening to these types of writing and actually understand and enjoy them? Or are my kids the only ones who look at me with a blank stare when reading this stuff?

 

Sorry, looking over that, it certainly is not well-written, but I am too tired to reword it. Hopefully you'll get my drift. :P

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I'm still reading just Beatrix Potter, Thornton Burgess Bird Book for Children, James Herriot so we haven't had too many problems. I do tend to stop and explain words or later my son might ask what a certain word or passage meant. I don't mind interrupting the flow of the story if needed, but I try to be careful about where I stop. If I don't think it is a good place I just hold up my index finger (universal "wait-a-min").

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When starting AO, or just reading older works to kids for whom the vocabulary/writing style is not something they are used to, do you just keep reading and eventually they adjust? Especially with the younger kids. Or do you try to explain everything? How long does it take for them to get used to listening to these types of writing and actually understand and enjoy them? Or are my kids the only ones who look at me with a blank stare when reading this stuff?

 

Sorry, looking over that, it certainly is not well-written, but I am too tired to reword it. Hopefully you'll get my drift. :P

 

With my kids it just took time for them to enjoy RA's. All except my oldest who loves every book ever read to her, just to confuse me. :smilielol5:

 

Anyway my 2nd dd didn't start enjoying them till about 2nd/3rd grade. My 3rd dd does now, but she can be really picky about what type of books. She adores Bill Wallace type books, which is not great literature, but at least has a good moral.

 

My ds still does not like RA's. Given he is a boy I suspect it will be 3rd/4th grade till he gets into them. Sigh...

 

Heather

 

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Read way over their heads and eventually they come to understand it. I never read aloud stuff *I* don't like, and I don't read her stuff she can read for herself or will be able to read for herself in another year or two. I figure if I'm taking the time and expending the energy to read aloud, it better be stretching her and accomplishing something! When my now 1 yo was 3 months old I started reading him books (nursery rhymes, mother goose) in long jaunts. He certainly didn't understand it, but now he really likes books! What you put into them through the read alouds, with complex sentence structure and vocabulary, is going to come out in their speech, writing, and reading comprehension. So definitely use it to stretch them. With my dd, my absolute favorite read alouds were the Lang Fairy Tales. I started her on them when she was 2 1/2 or 3 and would read them while she played. She barely understood them, but she'd listened while running around. Soon she did understand them, and then when she eventually started reading them for herself, despite the quite high reading level on them. So I say read it and they'll grow into it.

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I would think that the caveat though is not too shoot too far over their heads, as the more engagement with the material, the higher the retention. When we first started doing read-alouds, I picked mostly chapter books like Peter Pan (for a 4 year old) because I wanted it to be way above their level. What happened, however, was that the kids never wanted to listen because they had no interest and couldn't connect at all to the material.

 

Once I retreated to books with archaic language that were more age appropriate, like Beatrix Potter and Uncle Wiggly, I think we achieved the results I was hoping for, which was to stretch them in vocabulary, syntax and comprehension without boring them to death so that they tuned out all the good I was trying to do. It is sort of a balancing act, picking books that have an interesting narrative and are age-appropriate enough to engage yet also challenging enough to build new skills. Just my humble (and somewhat limited) experience :001_smile:.

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the King James Bible was all we had. Now, that's not quite Elizabethen English, but pretty close. Certainly no one talked that way. I'm not THAT old! But I learned what it meant. I couldn't tell you how, exactly. Inference, mostly, I suppose; and tracking from Bible story books over to hearing the actual Bible read in church. We had two readings per Sunday, and I learned old English that way.

 

So I would say that just reading this aloud will eventually win, if there are not a lot of other distractions to keep them from paying attention.

 

But that's not good enough for me. I think kids should be taught vocabulary that way, in context. I also think they should be taught summarization that way.

 

When my DD was very young and I was starting to read her, hard' books, I would stop periodically and ask her what something meant (if I asked her whether she knew, she always said yes even when she didn't). If she couldn't explain, I would. Sometimes I would just stop and say, "OK, 'this word' means 'that.'" Whenever I did this, I would go back and reread that sentence. This really cemented the vocabulary into her little brain, and was practically painless.

 

At the beginning of each session where we were continuing a previously started book, I would summarize what had been read before. Gradually I started to pass that responsibility over to DD. By the time I was asking for written summaries, she was very comfortable summarizing a piece of writing.

 

It's all good!

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I'm fortunate that my now 5 year-old has always listened to stories with rapt-attention, and howls if he doesn't get a story.

 

We've always read him a fair-proportion of books with elevated language, and many of considerable length.

 

I can say I've felt torn at times between interrupting a narrative to "explain" a word or phrase and just hoping things settle-in by context. The more exciting the story, the less apt I am to interrupt. Hardly scientific.

 

But when the book is more informational (as when we were reading the Kingfisher book on Mummies night before last) I tend to stop more, with questions like: what does "ancient" mean?

 

There is no question that hearing stories like "Black Ships Before Troy" rather than a steady diet of "Hop on Pop" has had an impact on his language and verbal skills. But mixing it up is nice.

 

Bill

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Dh and I are currently reading The Hobbit to ds5. We knew it would be a bit of a stretch for him, but he has adapted pretty well. He has always enjoyed being read to though. I do stop to explain words he doesn't understand, but I try to only stop at the end of a section or paragraph. I know he gets the overall plot, because he talks about it so much. Constantly, actually. Like, I would occasionally like to talk about something, anything, else, but they are about to fight the dragon, so of course nothing else could be as interesting as that. But really, it is going well.:D

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I would think that the caveat though is not too shoot too far over their heads, as the more engagement with the material, the higher the retention. When we first started doing read-alouds, I picked mostly chapter books like Peter Pan (for a 4 year old) because I wanted it to be way above their level. What happened, however, was that the kids never wanted to listen because they had no interest and couldn't connect at all to the material.

 

Once I retreated to books with archaic language that were more age appropriate, like Beatrix Potter and Uncle Wiggly, I think we achieved the results I was hoping for, which was to stretch them in vocabulary, syntax and comprehension without boring them to death so that they tuned out all the good I was trying to do. It is sort of a balancing act, picking books that have an interesting narrative and are age-appropriate enough to engage yet also challenging enough to build new skills. Just my humble (and somewhat limited) experience :001_smile:.

Love this idea! Is there an easy way you figure out the appropriate level?

 

But that's not good enough for me. I think kids should be taught vocabulary that way, in context. I also think they should be taught summarization that way.

 

When my DD was very young and I was starting to read her, hard' books, I would stop periodically and ask her what something meant (if I asked her whether she knew, she always said yes even when she didn't). If she couldn't explain, I would. Sometimes I would just stop and say, "OK, 'this word' means 'that.'" Whenever I did this, I would go back and reread that sentence. This really cemented the vocabulary into her little brain, and was practically painless.

 

At the beginning of each session where we were continuing a previously started book, I would summarize what had been read before. Gradually I started to pass that responsibility over to DD. By the time I was asking for written summaries, she was very comfortable summarizing a piece of writing.

 

It's all good!

Wonderful!

This is all so helpful!
:iagree::iagree:Wow! Great thread!
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Dh and I are currently reading The Hobbit to ds5. We knew it would be a bit of a stretch for him, but he has adapted pretty well. He has always enjoyed being read to though. I do stop to explain words he doesn't understand, but I try to only stop at the end of a section or paragraph. I know he gets the overall plot, because he talks about it so much. Constantly, actually. Like, I would occasionally like to talk about something, anything, else, but they are about to fight the dragon, so of course nothing else could be as interesting as that. But really, it is going well.:D

:lol::lol: It is funny when they get so attached to books! My son's absolute favorite is The Thornton Burgess Bird Book for Children. It was dog-earred within 3 days of it arriving in our house. He actually would carry it in a room just to sit next to him...he knew I wasn't going to read it for the day, but he would just, like cuddle with it! :001_huh: I guess that is a book-lover if I ever saw one! :001_smile:

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When we started AO Year 1 last year with my ds6, there were a couple things that were really over his head (Parables of Nature and Peter Pan). So I stopped those. I did stop pretty regularly for the other books and asked him "what just happened?" (basically an oral narration) and I would give definitions of difficult words as we went. If I thought he could figure out the definitions from context clues, I'd ask what did he think the word meant. By the end of year 1 of AO, his vocab and ability to follow the story had improved dramatically. We were able to read the yr. 1 selections of Parables of Nature during the last 9 weeks of the year, and we read Peter Pan over the summer...and guess what? He LOVES these two books now!

And now we're doing year 2 and he enjoys and understands all the books (I do still explain unknown vocab, of course.)

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