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Do you stop while you read?

Last night when I was reading through Chapter 5 of "The Borrowers", I was interrupted several times.  "Mama," says the little one, raising her hand but waiting before she speaks.  When I reach the end of the paragraph, I look at her.  She says: "You know what I did today with Aidan?"  I say, "Maybe we can talk about that when we're done with the chapter."  After a few more sentences, again it's "Mama!  Mama!"  I read to the end of the paragraph and again look at her.  She asks "Where did the borrowers get that chair?"  We stop and talk about how the chair is an empty spool of thread, but her older sister is growing anxious, wanting for me to read on and on.

It's tough for me to read to two different children at different ages and different attention spans.  But, this is our storytime, and it's not going to change.  I personally don't like stopping so often to talk about the day or talk about the setting (although I suppose I shouldn't mind the latter).  I like to dig into the book and read right through.

One of our daughters has always been inquisitive at story time, whether it be a chapter book or picture book.  Always asking tangential questions about the characters, their mamas, papas, brothers, and sisters.  Our other daughter enjoys just listening and silently visualizing the words.

I have long wondered: do you stop while you read?  To really examine and discuss the pictures?  To talk about what it may be like to be that character?  To talk through feelings about the story?  Or, do you read straight through and leave the discussion to the end (of the book or the chapter)?


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Honestly, it depends on how tired I am. If I'm doing okay, I have no problem stopping and chatting. But, it's bedtime and I'm done for the day? Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. No questions or discussion. Even a few skipped words. Mine don't read yet, so they are unaware of the abridged version!

What a timely question! I was just thinking the same thing to myself. I generally have been a waiter until the end of the page/paragraph person but was asking myself last night...why? why do I need to finish if my kids have a question...esp. if its both of them enjoying the moment or the picture...so I would say that I'm trying to become a pauser...

I just finished reading the Borrower's series with my 4 1/2 year old son. We stopped often to talk about the words and concepts- so only one or two chapters a night. There are so many archaic terms and items in those books that I think my son would have quietly drifted off into other thoughts if we hadn't talked about them. Now, he knows all about buttoning boots, undertakers, and gameskeepers. He is always trying to figure out how to make things out of the gears of a music box or safety pins or anything else he comes across. He really enjoyed the visuals of the books- maybe partly because he could really see them in his mind after we talked about them.

As a soon to be Speech-Language Pathologist and Mom - apparently how we read to children is just as important as how frequently we read to them.

Children learn more from books when they are actively involved. It's called Dialogic Reading. In dialogic reading, the child and parent have a conversation about a book.

Dialogic reading encourages "what" questions, asking open-ended questions that allow for multi-word answers, and expanding upon what the child says. These three techniques encourage the child to talk more and to provide descriptions of what they see. This helps the kiddo learn new vocabulary, and they learn that conversation involves taking turns. Apparently studies show that children who have been read to dialogically are significantly ahead of children who have been read to traditionally on tests of language development.

That being said - I have many nights when I just traditionally read a book straight thru - due to being tired or having work to do! I try to do dialogic reading during the day when my energy levels are higher.

At the end of the day, all and any style of reading is good reading!

I used to volunteer at Head Start doing story times, and we got trained by a great children's librarian. She said that when you're reading to a group of kids, you are modeling to them how to attend to a story - you should look at the book yourself, ignore interruptions (stopping only to explain anything that the kids absolutely won't understand without a very brief explanation), and then have any needed/inspired conversation at the end of the story. I thought that was a neat idea to cultivate a respect for the books and for stories. I generally follow that practice when reading picture books to my preschooler. Chapter books, though, in a one-on-a-few family setting, are different, and I do really like the idea of "dialogic reading." We should honor stories, but also honor the ideas and conversation they inspire!

Anyway, I think this is one of those parenting discussions where there's no right answer. Books are wonderful, reading is wonderful, and the Borrowers are awesome.

Sometimes I'm the one with the interruption! If a character uses a word our family doesn't like (stupid, dumb, shut up) or does something mean, I stop and comment on it. Usually it's not too disruptive. I just look at my daughter and say something like, "That wasn't very nice, was it?"

So if I make that commentary, it's only fair that my kids get to ask questions, too. But I don't have a problem with keeping it to conversations about the book and not about what we ate for dinner and such.

One possible approach with picture books is to read it straight through the first time and encourage discussion the second time. But I guess that's a topic for another post--how many times will you re-read a book?

Our kids are 5, 3, 2, and 1. We read lots of "little" books and then we have a multi-night reading of longer books (i.e. Little House). For the family reading (long book) we listen without interruptions, except for at the ends of chapters we usually talk about what we read and they can ask questions. When we're reading little books 1-on-1 they can ask questions as often as they like and pause and talk about the pictures and wonder about things. I think there's a difference in reading 1-on-1 when the reading is tailored to a particular person's needs, and reading in a group where we have to show respect for everyone and make the reading a pleasant experience for all of us. We LOVE story time - both kinds!!! :)

I think it depends. I do both. I allow for interruptions that have to do with the book itself -- clarification of the plot, of the meaning of a word, a comment on the pictures, etc.

But some days the 3-4 year old crowd just isn't into the book and wants to talk nonstop nonsense. In that case, I pause at natural stopping points (end of each page, end of each paragraph, etc.) and ask Mr. Talky if he has anything to say. This seems to "legalize the behavior" which takes some of the thrill of interruption (just for the sake of interruption) away.

Once kids reach a certain age (roughly 4+, give or take a year either way), the expectation is that they sit and listen and show respect to the reader and the other listeners.

Timely question for me too. Sometimes I get annoyed at interruptions, sometimes I don't mind them at all. I do think interrupting and commenting is a good way to learn and I do want to encourage curiosity, but I also have been trying to get my son to try to deduce the answer himself from the context of the story. A lot of times he asks a question that is soon to be answered in the story, or that he could figure out if he tried. Lately I've been telling him that sometimes you might not know what a word means, but you can guess based on the words around it.

Mostly, though, it depends on how "kidded out" I am at the end of the day.

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