One of my treasured memories as a child was when my mother or father read to me. It wasn’t that they read so often. But those few times were so special that they still stand out in my memory almost 60 years later. I am certain that if my parents had only realized at the time how special those times were, they would have read to my brothers and sister and me more often.
I can still hear Mama reading the opening lines of Tom Sawyer, “Tom, Tom, come home Tom,” as if it were yesterday. Mama didn’t just read those words, she sounded like she was Aunt Polly and she was calling Tom from the back door. Mama put life into those words as she read them.
Mem Fox is one of my favorite children’s authors who, in addition to her numerous award-winning picture books, has written a book entitled Reading Magic: Why reading aloud to our children will change their lives forever. In Reading Magic, she shares the importance of reading with expression to children. She also shares these techniques on her website at http://www.memfox.com/reading-magic-intro. Browse around on her website as you can also listen to her read several of her picture books.
As a beginning school teacher and later as an elementary school librarian I followed Mama’s reading example, and doing so learned to love children’s literature. Several years ago I recorded two of the poems Mama read to me as a child: “The Raggedy Man,” and “Little Orphant Annie,” and added them to the Librivox website. You can listen to my recordings of these two poems along with several other poems and stories by clicking here: Grandma Janice’s Poems and Stories.
It isn’t absolutely necessary to read perfectly, however. The fact that you take the time to read with your child will mean more to your child than they may let on. Many children crave one-on-one time with their parents. So read with the best expression you can muster, read often, and you may surprise yourself at how well you can read as you continue to share storybooks with your children.