Twenty Years Ago: The Read Aloud Handbook

Joanne Levy-Prewitt:

“The Read Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease was a guide to literature for children. As I recall, the second half of the book was a collection of book and story titles appropriate for different ages, but it was the first half that really influenced my parenting philosophy.
Simply put, Trelease wanted parents to ban television and read aloud to their young children, until, and even after, they could read on their own. First published in 1982, many children who were the beneficiaries of Trelease’s ideas are now college age and beyond.
It would be interesting to conduct a study to determine whether the children Trelease hoped to influence have become active readers as adults. My guess is that many of them stopped reading for pleasure when they started middle school and were assigned specific books.

One thought on “Twenty Years Ago: The Read Aloud Handbook”

  1. I, too, would be interested in a formal study of families who didn’t have TV while their children were growing up.
    My daughter was born in 1983, and I recall having the discussion about whether we should “throw out the TV.” We did, though we remained devoted listeners of public radio. Our daughter did see TV occassionally at friends houses or at the babysitters. But for the first 10 years of her life, access to TV was extremely limited.
    I suspect there are all sorts of other issues that affect whether kids who grew up TV-less became more active readers than kids who had TV. While we were town dwellers, and had access to lots of other activities (movies, plays, concerts), we knew several other families, most in alternative rural communities, who also junked the TV, but didn’t have access to as many other activities.
    You have to keep in mind that this generation was introduced to the computer in elementary school, played various game systems in middle school and started IM-ing and file swapping music in high school, so they were by no means devoid of the influence of technological media other than TV.
    In a recent e-mail I received from my daughter, she complained that she did not have enough time to think, read and write, because she is so connected to her computer and cell phone. I suspect the Trelease of her generation will advise junking the computer, video game system and cell phone along with the TV.

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