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On Our Bookshelves – Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook

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BOOK: Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook (Eighth Edition)

AUTHOR: Edited and Revised by Cyndi Giorgis

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2019

REVIEW:

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My younger daughter’s kindergarten teacher recommended this book to the parents of his students last fall.  Well, he recommended The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  Jim Trelease has recently retired, or at least he’s retired from updating this popular publication, so I checked out the most recent version, put together by Cyndi Giorgis.  I’m glad I did, and am only sorry that it took me this long to get around to it. 

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Jim Trelease’s original version was published in 1982 and has been updated over the years.  It’s a practical guide for parents, and of course, new books do get released, older books go out of print, and new research and studies are done, so updates are absolutely appropriate.  

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The main points here, though, do not change, no matter the current educational trends.  Reading to children is, was, and always will be a good thing–it’s a great way to help them become readers: awakening their imaginations and improving their language skills.  

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Actually, this book is kind of three books in one.  There are the good recommendations about how to read to children–how to keep them engaged, how to make it effective and fun for them, how to keep it interactive, how best to utilize your time with them in age-appropriate ways, which types of books work best for this purpose, and so on. (Like anything else we do in life, we can get better at this skill, if we get some practice and some good advice. And this is a book with some good advice.)  

Then there’s the research part–a summary of what’s gained by reading to kids, how it will benefit them, how important literacy is to their future careers.  If you want to see the statistics and the studies, and the pros and cons of electronic media versus traditional print–this is for you.  If, like me, you’re a lifetime lover of books and the joy they bring, and you want to share that pleasure with the young kids in your life, you might not care so much about this part–the benefits of being a book-lover are so obvious and intuitive that all of the analysis may seem superfluous. If you are not a book person, but are looking out for what is best for children, you just might find this research persuasive, however–and who knows, maybe the kids that you raise (or teach, or babysit, or love) will subsequently benefit.

And then there are the specific book suggestions–they’re conveniently listed by category and genre, with useful summaries, which all include the number of pages and the reading level.  This in itself is an invaluable resource, especially for the adult who has been out of touch with children’s literature for the past few years–or decades.  (I won’t judge!)

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Don’t just take it from me–take it from one of the most amazing elementary school teachers I have had the good fortune to know: get yourself a copy of Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook, learn what you can from it, and go read to some kids.  The world will be a better place for it.

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RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 3 1/2 Whistles

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not-quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com

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Lead-In Image Courtesy of Penguin Random House

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read-aloud handbook - book cover - penguin random house - embed

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