stop the story!

January 18, 2013

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This week on Rhythm of the Home, I’m writing about the benefits of kids interrupting during read-alouds.

I’ve written about this before, because I’m such a fan of talking about books. If you want to read more, there’s a post about talking about literature in general here, and one about talking about it in a writer’s workshop setting here.

What do your kids like to talk about when you’re reading aloud?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy January 18, 2013 at 10:37 am

So timely. Were you reading my mind? This morning I prayed for grace during all the interruptions (and I’m not just talking about read-alouds, but hot damn if that’s not a good encapsulation….), because that is exactly how the flow is supposed to be right now.
And I also adjusted expectations that we would get through precisely one chapter of our current read aloud, versus three, since I will be fielding 700+ questions, and I am not in a race (right? um, right?). Sometimes I marvel at all that the thread of the story stays on the page.

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patricia January 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Amy! I have so been missing your gorgeously dark sense of humor on Twitter.

Yes, I did not mention in my post the particular frustrations of *too many* interruptions, especially from little guys. The honest truth is that I have never been above pronouncements like, “Let’s get back to the book for a little while, because I can’t keep track of what’s happening in the story.” I love my kids and their curious minds, but I love the flow of a good piece of writing too!

Just think of all the brain connections they’re making, if it takes three chapters-worth of time to get through one chapter! It pays off, my friend. Wishing you grace when you need it in the meanwhile.

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Dawn Suzette January 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Wonderful post Patricia. I can recall the same converstation about that bunny not too many years ago! We do so love talking about books around here.
One thing I love most about books in the car is that there is no other place to go… so why not sit and chat about the book!
For books on “tape” we have even talked about how the readers voice makes a huge difference in the way we feel about the story.
Good stuff!

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Jennifer January 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm

After getting hooked on audio books in my housecleaning heydey, I think being an audio reader is now a “dream job.”

Stephen King books only sound right to me in his voice. Ditto for David Sedaris.

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patricia January 19, 2013 at 8:22 am

Dawn, I feel the same way about books in the car. We definitely talk about books when I read them aloud at home, but there is *something* about listening to them in the car that’s always gotten the kids talking. You’re right: there’s nowhere else to go! And I think there is something about driving in a car that puts some of us in a particularly ruminative mood.

We are great, great fans of audiobooks. I wrote a post about it a few years back, and people have been leaving their own audiobook recommendations in the comments ever since! http://patriciazaballos.com/2010/07/16/audiobooks-anyone/ (We agree that the reader makes a huge difference in how we interpret the book. We’ve become very particular critics of book readers! I just bought Lulu an audio version of Little Women to use as she works on her term paper. I found the reader who read all of the Anne of Green Gables books that Lulu and I loved when she was younger. It’s so neat to hear the same voice reading Little Women!)

Hope you have a few good audiobooks lined up for your family’s journey, Dawn!

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Jennifer January 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm

If they are interrupting, it means they don’t know what some word means. I rejoice at this because it is built-in vocabulary lessons for us home-schoolers!

I interrupt myself just as often, to explain or highlight some point. I’m reading LIFE OF PI to them. I read it years ago but kept it around. It gripped me completely; I knew they must hear it someday. We all went to the movie in December as a prelude. I highlight allusions and clues in the writing, bits that we can reflect on later to figure out what the story means.

I stop for items described that they are not familiar with–like navel terms–or to refer to the distance between Pi and Richard Parker (the tiger): “That’s ten feet– about from here to the window.” Their eyes go wide. I. Love. It.

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patricia January 19, 2013 at 8:30 am

I absolutely agree about interrupting for vocabulary being a good thing, Jennifer! My kids picked up *so much* vocabulary from books over the years, especially audiobooks. One of my favorite vocabulary stories is the one of my daughter, at seven, telling her brother he had “a severe lack of moral stamina,” thanks to one of the Series of Unfortunate Events books. (See what you have to look forward to?)

And yes, I also interrupt when I read or we listen together. I didn’t write about that, but I do! I can’t resist pointing out artful writing that I admire, or making helpful clarifications like you do. It’s the mutual interrupting that make the whole experience feel like a grand, ongoing book group. I love it too!

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Patraq January 22, 2013 at 4:27 am

Patricia, any tips on getting audio books to become favorites? My children love books. They love for adults to read to them, and they love looking through books on their own. But audio books continue to flop around here. At ages 5 and 3, are they simply too young? I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Thanks!

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patricia January 22, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Hi Patraq!

You could be right in thinking that your kids are on the young side for audiobooks. My kids started getting really into them when they were six or seven.

Have you tried listening to shorter, audio versions of picture books together, flipping through the pages as you listen? I used to get these at the library, and used them a lot with my youngest, when we waited in the car while his siblings were at piano lessons. Audio with accompanying picture books seem to work better than longer, chapter-style audiobooks for younger kids. It’s nice to have the visual to go with the sound. And listening with a parent can be a good way in.

My kids liked the simpler tales from Jim Weiss at this age. I’ve also heard good things about Sparkle Stories, but haven’t listened to them myself because my kids are too old for them.

My two youngest kids are particularly auditory learners. That’s not the case for all kids–some just may not be as interested in audiobooks. Kids who are not particularly auditory learners may become more interested in audiobooks as they get older.

Thanks for reading along!

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Carrie Pomeroy January 26, 2013 at 3:41 pm

What do my kids ask/talk about when they interrupt readalouds? Oh, what don’t they? They ask for definitions of words; make connections to other parts of the story or other books and movies; they comment on how a book differs from its movie version; they ask for clarification about what the writer means and often ask what’s going to happen next. I interrupt myself often to point out what I think the writer is doing effectively–to celebrate good characterization or nicely used dialogue or description. It’s all so rich, and I’m often so grateful by the way we can slowly meander our way through a book.

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patricia January 29, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Ah, all such good stuff, Carrie! Who needs literature curriculum and canned discussion questions? One of the best things in life, if you ask me, is meandering through a book together.

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