Parent Brochures on Reading
by Jim Trelease

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"Do you have a free handout about reading
that we can give to parents?"

o many 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.

Written 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;
  • The importance of a child reading outside school;
  • Why it's essential for parents to read aloud to children;
  • Listening levels 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 force in America;
  • 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: email address. 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 lot easier!

Would any of the brochures apply to the faculty?

Anyone trying to raise readers will benefit. Furthermore, "Why 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 Wilbur Schramm's "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 on the use of books over computers in E-books and E-learning: Not so fast! (scientists look at the pros and cons)

Can we read a brochure's contents before downloading it?

Simply click on the name of the brochure (above) and it will open the PDF file for viewing on your browser or in Adobe 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 brochure materials.

Should you 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 most print—books, 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 R’s): Books, 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 ever attend.

— from Ten Facts Parents Should Know about Reading
also available: Spanish edition


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.

— from Fathers, Sons & Reading


26. Add a third dimension to the book whenever possible. For example, have a bowl of blueberries ready to be eaten during or after the reading of Robert McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal.

— from Thirty DO's to Remember When Reading Aloud


3. Don’t feel, 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.

— from A Dozen DON'Ts to Remember When Reading Aloud


A PERFECT example 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.

— from Why Some Read a Lot and Some Read Very Little


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 ideas.

— from Why Read Aloud to Children?


WHETHER you’re 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!

— from The Connection Between TV & School Grades


THERE 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.

— from Summer Reading


Reading from a book or from a screen: Any difference?

TODAY'S teenager is regularly juggling e-tablets, 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 find little to be hopeful about in their studies.

— from E-books and E-learning: Not so fast!


ONE 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).

  1. The more you know, the smarter you grow.2
  2. The smarter you are, the longer you stay in school.3
  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
  4. The more diplomas you earn, the higher your own children’s grades eventually will be in school.5
  5. And the more diplomas you earn, the longer you live.6
Annual Income by Education Level


— from READING: The Most Powerful
Social Force in America


[Reading 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.

— from Questions Parents Always Ask About Reading Aloud


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