The Children's Hour

CM's thoughts on reading aloud always create a buzz among mothers. I think it is because she is misunderstood.

Miss Mason was not against reading aloud. She was against its getting in the way of children establishing the habit of reading. She very clearly said that young children need their schoolbooks read to them until they establish fluency; the goal being generally around nine years of age. My eight year old is a good reader but I still read most of her books to her because they are so rich in vocabulary that her comprehension will be much greater if I read aloud. She is not truly fluent yet. At the same time, her comprehension will always be greater if I read aloud, but I still have a cut off point so that she will begin to do the digging herself. She may miss some ideas at this stage, but that's okay. This is to be expected in the transition stage. Next year, I will read only a couple of her books to her.

Also, no matter what the age of the student, I read certain books aloud simply because of the type of discussion I want to ensue. Miss Mason encouraged this for the same reason and because often adult books were chosen that she felt young people could understand just fine, but these books sometimes had passages that needed editing since they were unsuitable for children.

Then, in the evenings, my husband and I read aloud to the children. He takes two of similar age to a room and I take two to another room; or sometimes the read aloud is appropriate for all. We don't read every night, but it is a regular event.

So, as you can see, we still read aloud quite a bit, but in comparison to the volume of books my children are reading on their own, the read alouds are few. It also frees me up to attend to other important family duties.