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The Read-Aloud Handbook

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Cover Art of The Read-Aloud Handbook 2006-2007 Edition by Jim Trelease

The Read-Aloud Handbook

Penguin Books

The Sixth Edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook

I am delighted that the sixth edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook is now available. "The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success is reading aloud to children." That quotation is from Becoming a Nation of Readers, a national report by the Commission on Reading. However, even knowing its importance, many parents, grandparents, teachers, principals, and other educators need guidance as to the "why," "how," and "what" of reading aloud to a child.

Fortunately, that information is available in the latest edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook. The first edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook was self-published by the author in 1979. It was expanded and published by Penguin in 1982. Since then, Penguin has published six revised editions, the latest coming out in 2006. Over one million copies have been sold, and the book has also been published in British, Australian, Chinese, Spanish, and Japanese editions.

The Author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease

Jim Trelease is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, with twenty years' experience as a highly respected artist and writer for the Springfield Daily News in Massachusetts. He is also a parent who regularly read aloud to his own children. In the course of visiting classrooms to discuss his work as an artist and writer, Trelease became interested in how children learn to read and the effects of reading aloud to children on a daily basis. Trelease became so committed to both learning more and sharing what he discovered that he developed his handbook and began working full-time with parents, teachers, and professional groups.

The First Section of The Read-Aloud Handbook

As Jim Trelease points out, "This is not a book about teaching a child how to read; it's about teaching a child to want to read." The Read-Aloud Handbook is divided into two parts. The first provides specific information on the effects of reading aloud, including the latest research on both reading aloud and Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), which he calls "Reading Aloud's Natural Partner." Trelease also provides a lot of anecdotal evidence about the impact of reading aloud to children.

Trelease discusses the "Stages of Read-Aloud" and devotes an entire chapter to the "Do's and Don'ts of Read-Aloud." Librarians and teachers will find his analysis of the lessons to learned from Oprah's Book Club, Harry Potter, and the Internet, as well as his discussions on making libraries and classrooms (and reading) more appealing to students, of particular interest. Trelease also covers the effects of television, audio and technology, both positive and negative.

The Second Section of The Read-Aloud Handbook

The second half of the book contains an updated Treasury of Read-Alouds. A number of the books were published in the last five years, but there are also a large number of old favorites. Trelease prefaces this section with several pages on how to use the Treasury. Since these are books for adults to read aloud to children, Trelease provides the "listening level" for each book rather than the reading level. For example, a book listed as "Grades K-3" is a book children in grades K-3 should be able to understand and enjoy having read to them. There are nine categories:
  • Wordless Books
  • Predictable Books
  • Reference Books
  • Picture Books
  • Short Novels
  • Full-Length Novels
  • Poetry
  • Anthologies
  • Fairy and Folk Tales.

Trelease also provides extensive resource notes for each chapter, a bibliography of resources used, a subject index for the text, and an author-illustrator index for the Treasury of Read-Alouds.

The Read-Aloud Handbook: My Recommendation

I consider The Read-Aloud Handbook to be an essential reference book for anyone interested in children, children's literature, and reading. There is so much to learn from the book that I couldn't even begin to outline it all. However, on the next page, I have listed ten significant lessons I learned from the book. (Penguin, sixth edition, 2006. ISBN:

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