In some cultures, such as the Lakota, is wasn't that long ago that stories were told by elders to young people - stories of lessons of animals who played tricks and learned lessons of their own. Most of these stories were not written down but passed down verbally from generation to generation, and, surprisingly, they changed little over thousands of years.
That same spirit of the tradition of storytelling continued this past Wednesday during World Read Aloud Day at Demoney Elementary when teachers and guest readers read to groups of students from kindergarten through second grade. Readers went from room to room, telling the kids stories and the kids asked lots of questions in turn.
It was a lot like those stories told around long-ago council fires.
Reading to kids is probably one of the best things you can do for them. It helps them appreciate the act of reading and it also helps them to study and understand how adults place nuances on certain words, and put a spin on various phrases. And when adults ask kids if they could see themselves in a certain situation, or if a beaver could really do this or if a bear could really do that, kids learn to process information abstractly.
Reading to kids also serves as a model for when kids get older. They'll remember when Mom or Dad or Grandpa or Grandma or Uncle or Aunt read to them. they'll think of how much they enjoyed it, and they'll want to read to their own children. Some studies have also suggested that if mothers read aloud to children in the womb their children will be smarter.
It might just take 10 or 20 minutes a day or each night, but if you have kids, read to them. It's the first step in their learning to read for themselves.
And that's a gift that will last a lifetime.