Boy-Man To Grown-Man

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The ABCs of better reading

A report of a talk given by Jim Trelease, the author of a New York Times bestseller The Read Aloud Handbook.

Some clips from the article:

"The parent is the most important professor [a] kid is ever going to meet..."

Trelease cited a study called "Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children," in which researchers observed healthy families in different economic classes. After years of collecting data, they were able to calculate the cumulative number of words spoken in front of these families' children.

What they found was that, by the age of 4, children in professional families had heard, cumulatively, 45 million words. Children in working-class families had heard 26 million words, and children in poverty-level families had heard 13 million words.

In other words, by the time these 4-year-olds enter kindergarten together, the professional-class kid has been exposed to 32 million more words than the kid living in poverty.

The father who only finds time to take his kid to the ballgame is a "boy-man," he said. But the father who also finds time to take his kid to the bookshelf is a "grown man."

"I think Harry Potter is the best thing to happen to children's books," perhaps in the history of children's books, he said. The books aren't sophisticated literature, but they are page-turners. Kids love them the same way adults love John Grisham or Danielle Steele.

Ultimately, good children's literature is like good adult literature. There needs to be "conflict. Something has to happen in the story," said Trelease.

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on April 16, 2004 9:03 AM.

Australian Children's Book Of The Year Shortlists was the previous entry in this blog.

Lancashire Book Award Shortlist is the next entry in this blog.

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