"Do you have a free
handout about reading
that we can give to parents?"
teachers and administrators asked Jim Trelease that
question, one of his first retirement projects was
to create a series of such free handouts. Based on his
books, lectures, and films, the tri-fold double-sided brochures
are aimed at parents, teachers, librarians—even future
teachers and parents.
in an uncomplicated, to-the-point style, along with some
of the charts and statistics Jim has used in his books
and lectures, the brochures are free for downloading and
may be easily duplicated by nonprofit institutions dealing
with parents and community members. More than 750 school districts and libraries world-wide have downloaded them in the last two years.
The subject matter includes:
Why reading is the most important
subject in school;
How a child becomes
competent in reading;
of a child reading outside school;
Why it's essential
for parents to read aloud to children;
versus reading levels;
How the mere presence
of print in the home influences a child's reading skills;
The negative impact
of over-viewing of TV and video games;
How TV's "closed-captioning"
can help a child's reading;
The positive effects
of recorded books.
The things to be sure
to do when reading to children and the things to avoid;
Why is it that some
people read a lot and some (even very educated people)
read very little?
How effective is summer
reading? Don't kids need a break from school and reading?
The more you read, the
longer you live. The proof is in the formula that
shows reading to be the most powerful social
Who has the time these
days to read to children?
Where can I find lists
of good read-alouds, as well as inexpensive books?
How do we obtain the brochures?
First, email Jim Trelease (click HERE)
and seek permission to print the brochures, including in
your correspondence the name and address of the requesting
organization, its nonprofit status, and how it will be
used. If clicking in the previous paragraph fails to bring
up your email, type the following into your email application:
Jim's email response to you (usually within 48 hours) will
allay any fears your printer may have about reprinting
a copyrighted item. Then control/option-click on
the name of the brochure below and
the brochure's PDF file will be downloaded to your computer.
Each is a megabyte in size and may take a minute
to download. Burn it to a disc (or email it) for your printing
facility. The item should be printed to both sides of a
single sheet. It's easier than pie, if you've ever tried
to bake a pie—a
More booklist brochures currently
are in development.
inches) Preview. IMAGE
includes father building sand castle at beach with two
small children. TEXT: "It’s no surprise,
when dads are involved kids make better sand castles.
And research shows when dads are involved with books,
kids (especially boys) make better grades. Pick it up,
Dad." Poster is
black and white and can be easily and cheaply copied
at places like Staples where the price is $3, amazingly
cheap for 18x24 size.
(see also Fathers, Sons & Reading brochure.)
Would any of the brochures apply to
Anyone trying to raise readers
will benefit. Furthermore,
Some Read A Lot and Some Read Very Little" deals
with both adults and children. Teachers often tell me their
spouses never read for pleasure and some even whisper that
they themselves seldom read for pleasure. There's an explanation
for this and exploring it can make for a lively
and enlightening faculty discussion. The brochure explains
"Fraction of Selection," a little known but fascinating
formula that explains why, what, and how much (or little)
we read. Just as you can't catch a cold from someone who
doesn't have one, it's near to impossible to catch the
love of reading from someone who doesn't have it themselves.
Similarly, the brochure Why
Read Aloud to Children? may convince
some faculty to read to students who already
know how to read. And many will find some cogent
arguments to defend the use of books over computers in Who
Needs Books When We Have Computers?
Can we read a brochure's contents before
Simply click on the name of the brochure (above)
it will open the PDF file for viewing on your browser or
Acrobat Reader. (By not holding down the option or
control keys while clicking, you avoid the download
until you're ready. Below are sample excerpts from the
encounter problems using the above method, the same
brochures are available at Trelease
Download — you'll be able to preview
and/or download individual files.
THE top rodeo riders or winter Olympians
come from states where they have more horses and
cattle or more snow and ice. And reading research
shows that children who come from homes with the
magazines, and newspapers—have the highest
reading scores. They also use the library more than
those with lower
scores. Libraries have the most and best books in
the world—all for free. Remember:
a used-book for 50 cents—the ones in garage
sales or thrift shops—has the same words in
it as a brand new copy for $12.95. Reading families
use the 3 B’s (to help the 3
Bathroom, and Bed Lamp. Make sure there’s
a box for books and magazines in the bathroom for
idle or captive moments, and add one near the kitchen
table. Install a reading lamp near the child’s
bedside and allow the privilege of staying up 15
minutes later to read (or look at pictures) in bed.
It just might be the best night-school he’ll
AS much as anything else, children are little sponges, soaking up the behavior and values of the dominant people around them.
A Pennsylvania social worker once told me about a family she was working with. The mother asked if it was natural for her son to pretend to be reading to his toy trucks and cars (he was too young to actually be reading). The worker had seen children read to their dolls and siblings, but to toy cars?
She told the mother this was a new slant on reading but not to worry about it. The important thing was the boy was imitating the act of reading, a very positive behavior.
Later, as she was leaving, she observed the child’s father bent over the engine of his pickup truck, a repair manual balanced on the radiator, reading aloud the instructions to himself. CLICK! It was entirely natural for the little boy to think his father was reading aloud to his truck. Monkey see, monkey do.
as a teacher, that you must tie every book to class
work. Don’t confine the broad spectrum of
literature to the narrow limits of the curriculum.
Would you want every-thing you did all day tied
to a sermon? The object is to create a life-time
reader, not a school-time reader. That goal will
never be reached if a student thinks reading is
always associated with work or sweat.
of how the number of distractions impedes the amount
of reading can be found in The
Read-Aloud Handbook where
I describe the decline in reading among citizens
in the country that has long led the world in per-capita
readership of books, magazines, and newspapers—Japan.
Because it is a commuting nation in which citizens
spend hours each day on mass transit, they had
large amounts of time in which to read. But after
four decades of increase, suddenly readership dropped.
Why? The arrival of technological distractions:
video games, cell phones, laptops, Blackberries,
etc. As distractions rose, readership dropped—in
spite of high literacy rates.
That should be a red flag for affluent families
bent on saddling an easily-distracted child with every new tech-gadget.
NO ONE would deny the importance
of conversation in a child’s life.
But when it comes to building rich vocabulary, nothing
does it like words that
come from “print.” When
researchers counted the words we use most often, the
total came to 10,000 different words (the most common
word is “the”). Beyond the 10,000 mark,
you meet what are called the “rare” words.
Though we use these words less frequently in conversation,
they make up more and more of what you must know in
order to understand complicated ideas and feelings
in print, be it The New York
Times, textbook, or novel.
Thus the more rare (book) words a child knows, the
more easily he or she will be able to read complex
a high- or low-end user of TV, one thing should be
done to make the most of it whenever it’s in
use: turn on closed-captioning. Finland’s
children don’t start formal schooling until age-seven,
yet achieve the highest reading scores in the world.
Finnish families also are among the highest users of
closed-captioning because more than half of everything
shown on Finnish TV is captioned (most of the shows’ dialogs
are in languages other than Finnish). To understand
such shows, a child must be able to read Finnish— and
read it fast!
is an axiom in education that says “you get dumber
in the summer.” A two-year study of 3,000 students
in Atlanta, Georgia, attempted to see if that was
true and found that everyone—top student and bottom
student—learns more slowly in the summer but some do worse than slow down; they actually go into reverse,
as you can see in the chart above.
Reading from a book or from a screen: Any difference?
TODAY'S teenager is regularly juggling etablets,
iPods, smartphones, and laptops,
along with a cable-TV in the bedroom.
The 2,272 text messages a month in 2008
(for ages 13-17) ballooned to 3,339 by
2010, an average of six per waking hour.
Students in one of the most formative periods
of their intellectual and emotional
lives are interrupted 118 times a day for
messages, totaling 90 minutes.
Some experts predict the plasticity of
the human brain will allow it to eventually
adapt to these multitasking challenges. But neuroscientists found little to be hopeful about.
CAN EVEN ARGUE:
reading is the single most powerful social factor
in American life today. Here’s a formula to support
that. It sounds simplistic, but all its parts can
be documented, and while not universal, it holds
true far more often than not—nothing affects our
society like reading (or not-reading).
The more you know, the
smarter you grow.2
The smarter you are,
the longer you stay in school.3
The longer you stay in
school, the more diplomas you earn and the longer
you are employed—thus the more money you earn
in a lifetime. (see chart below)4
The more diplomas you
earn, the higher your own children’s grades
eventually will be in school.5
And the more diplomas
you earn, the longer you live.6
PITTS COULDN'T afford
expensive tutoring classes. Instead, she tutored
him herself—by listening, enthusing, and reading.
She couldn't afford high-priced "eye-contact" tutors
but she skimped to buy him a toy typewriter when
he was eight, and a used-one when he was 14. Loose
change? Just enough so her son could buy the latest "Spider-Man" and "Fantastic
Four" comic books. What Mrs. Pitts was doing
is one of the great trade secrets in American education.
It’s called parenting. Of all the teaching methods,
it’s the one that works best. And what Mrs. Pitts
produced in the poverty of L.A. was a Pulitzer-Prize-winning
aloud to the child] makes a pleasure connection between
child and print. No one is born wanting to either
play basketball or to read. That desire must be planted
by someone outside the child. The parent (or teacher
or grandparent) who reads to a child is planting
seeds, making a connection to print that doesn’t
hurt, that entices and gratifies instead. Homework,
workbooks, and tests seldom accomplish that.
Simply put, reading to the child amounts to
a commercial for reading.
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COPYRIGHT NOTICE Trelease on Reading is copyright 2006,
2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 by Jim Trelease and Reading Tree
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