Monarch Montessori Blog

  • Julia Kallmes

In the second episode of the "Love of Learning" podcast, hosts Elizabeth and Julia discuss the benefits and opportunities of reading aloud to your child. These include cultivating a love of reading, exposure to concepts about print and new vocabulary, and practicing phonological awareness.

Listen to the episode here.

Some Highlights from the Episode:

What are the benefits of reading aloud?

Reading aloud to your child cultivates a love for books and reading. They will associate reading books with that wonderful time together. I love this quote from children's author Mem Fox. She says, "When I say to a parent, 'Read to a child,' I don't want it to sound like medicine. I wanted to sound like chocolate." It should really be an enjoyable time when you can cuddle, giggle, and laugh.

Reading rhyming books presents and excellent opportunity to teach about rhyming in context, because then the words will rhyme and it will also make sense conceptually. Some good books for this are the Llama Llama books and Summer Days and Nights, which is a rhyming book and has beautiful vivid language for vocabulary enrichment as well.

What books should we read aloud?

I think that my biggest piece of advice would be to follow your child and give them choice. You should read books that you like and books that they like. I think that there can be some unfortunate snobbery about book selection. An adult might say, "Read Tuck Everlasting and not Captain Underpants. (I do love Tuck Everlasting.) Sometimes children want to read Dog Man or graphic novels. That is valuable that is reading and it shouldn't be diminished just because it's a little bit silly or funny.

In the podcast, we reference the following books or series:

Tough Boris by Mem Fox

Llama Llama books by Anna Dewdney

Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee

Starting early and reading often and aloud will help your children for years to come. Benefits of reading to kids includes the development of language, vocabulary, and thinking skills. Reading also helps children develop creativity and emotional skills. Stories allow children to put themselves in other’s shoes, helping them to develop empathy.

A few tips for reading sessions with kids:

  1. Make it part of your routine - Setting a time each day for reading, whether that’s before bed or mid-morning, will help establish security and set expectations for what’s important to them.

  2. Read the pictures - Look for cues and talk about what’s happening and how the characters feel.

  3. Pause - Talk about the story as you go or after you wrap up. Ask for their thoughts.

Our team at Monarch Montessori assembled a list of our favorite children’s books. At Monarch Montessori, we make books like these, and more, available to our students. If you’re looking for reading help, we also offer tutoring services.

Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee “The vivid, lyrical language! The gorgeous illustrations! This gem is my favorite book to read aloud with children.” – Julia, Monarch Montessori Executive Director and Lead Teacher

A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats “I am always reminded of this book during the first snowfall. Every Minnesotan can connect with curious little Peter.” – Jennie, Monarch Montessori Board Member

Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima “A children’s book I fell in love with as an adult. A beautiful story about being different and defining who you are.” – Maria, Monarch Montessori Board Member

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems “Anyone who has a child or has been a child will relate to this sweet story of a city-dwelling family's trip to the laundromat.” – Julia, Monarch Montessori Executive Director and Lead Teacher

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault“I remember reading this as a class out loud when I was in Kindergarten. My teacher had an over-sized copy of the book and we would all read it together, especially the part when we got to yell Chika Chika Boom Boom!” – Julie, Monarch Montessori Board Member

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes “I loved this story as a child because I connected so much with Lilly (I even had a purple plastic purse!). She loves everything and is really eager to share her excitement with others.” – Jennie, Monarch Montessori Board Member

The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey “The curiosity of the pup” – Maria, Monarch Montessori Board Member

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown “Both my grandma and mom would read this to my brother and I before going to bed. I love the memory of these bedtime stories. It’s my favorite book to give for any baby shower.” – Julie, Monarch Montessori Board Member

Monarch Montessori School is proud to announce that we are sponsoring a new podcast titled Love of Learning featuring our director and lead guide, Julia Kallmes, and her close friend and fellow educator Elizabeth Elcombe.

Our first season will examine how children learn to read and how we, as educators and parents, can support this endeavor. Every episode will feature research-based, practical tips to not only give your child the gift of reading but cultivate a love for learning.

Our first episode discusses Oral Language Development. Listen to it here!

Please let us know if you have any comments or questions, and tune in again in two weeks when we talk about building a child's vocabulary.

Some Highlights from the Episode:

What is Oral Language Development?

"Oral language development is the development of speaking and listening skills--vocabulary and understanding concepts as you are speaking and listening to them. While it's grouped with vocabulary, it includes so many more other aspects. It is such an important part of early literacy skills because it sets the foundation. People often miscount or don't include it because they don't realize that in order to comprehend what you're reading you have to have the background knowledge and the vocabulary to understand the words."

How Can Adults Support a Child's Oral Language Development?

Through Conversation- "I think is the easiest way to develop it is to just converse with your child. You should be having conversations about everything. It's a very natural thing to just talk to a child, and you can before they're even speaking with you. You can narrate what you're doing and narrate what they see around them. When you're walking through a grocery store, discuss the colors of the produce or even the produce itself. 'What is this? This is an orange!' I think that that kind of experience that that is more of an organic when it's happening in your daily life."

Through Read-Alouds- "Again, it is a very very natural part of a child's life is to have a story read to them. That exposure to language that's outside of their normal conversational language is so important."

Through Using Sophisticated Vocabulary- "There are very simple ways that you can enhance your conversations to build their vocabulary. You can use a word that is maybe a more advanced, a word that they don't know, and then you can say the sentence again using more simplified language." For example: This pumpkin is massive! It's huge!

Links to research cited and examples given in the episode:

ILA Second Language Learners' Vocabulary and Oral Language Development

ILA What Effective Pre-K Literacy Instruction Looks Like

Report of the National Reading Panel

Reading Rockets: Oral Language

Comic about paleontological knowledge



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