Facebook0Tweet0Pin0 Submitted by Timberland Regional LibraryPack up a sack of books and head to the kitchen, the living room and laundry room—even the bathroom and garage—and read some of your favorite stories aloud as a family. It’s time for the annual Timberland Regional Library (TRL) Family Read-Aloud, running from Saturday, March 2 (Dr. Seuss’s birthday) through Friday, April 12 (Beverly Cleary’s birthday).The program, now in its twelfth year, centers on the activity of families reading aloud together in different areas of their homes. As an early learning program, the Read-Aloud focuses on children from infancy to grade 3, though all of a family’s children are encouraged to join in the fun.“It’s no coincidence that we begin our read-aloud with the celebration of the birthday of Dr. Seuss and close with the celebration of the birthday of Beverly Cleary. Characters from books written by these beloved authors have become part of cherished childhood memories for many generations!” said Ellen Duffy, TRL’s Youth Services Coordinator.Families, as well as classrooms and child care providers, may pick up a Read Aloud Castle Start-up Kit at any Timberland library beginning on March 2, enter for chances to win prizes, and proceed to read in rooms all around their homes. The more rooms and spaces, the merrier. The kit includes a Read Aloud Castle on cardstock to color, a set of stickers, a Dr. Seuss bookmark, a door hanger and a prize drawing entry form. Booklists in the kits, all developed by TRL Youth Services staff include “100 Toddler Favorites,” which includes books and music, and “Books to Read Aloud,” the revised edition, featuring high appeal read-alouds for ages 3 to 12.Comments from families during last year’s Family Read-Aloud demonstrate that families enjoy and appreciate sharing books together. Specifically asked in what ways the program contributed to early learning for their children, families wrote comments such as these:Asking questions about stories and recognizing picturesBecoming more familiar with lettersHelping him to learn new wordsImproved language skillsShe is learning about storytelling and it has helped her attention spanIt has helped my child learn colors, shapes and concepts of print; rhymes and parts of a book.ImaginationAll 48 comments are listed at the end of the article, along with comments about what families enjoyed most about the program.What’s the Big Deal about Reading Aloud?“Research (and common sense) tells us that parents are the first and most important teachers of their children” said Ms. Duffy. What happens between parent and child is the best predictor of future success in school. Children who are read to from an early age develop better language skills, enhanced listening skills, larger vocabularies, and are more ready to read when they begin school.There is a tremendous body of research showing that a child’s emotional and social readiness is a strong predictor of school success. “Sitting comfortably together to share a story helps nurture the emotional bond between parent and child,” said Duffy.Recommended Books about Reading Aloud“Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever” by Mem Fox (2008 Revised Edition)“Reid’s Read-Alouds: Selections for Children and Teens” by Rob Reid (2009)“The Read-Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease (any edition)PrizesEach Timberland library will award a grand prize: a backpack filled with books selected especially for the winning family or classroom. Many libraries will also have local drawings for books and other prizes during the program. Friends of the Library groups throughout the library system have generously provided many hundreds of books. Families may enjoy reading the gift book plates to see the variety of Friends groups that donated the books and their associated libraries.Complete details will be in libraries and online at www.TRL.org no later than March 2, the date when kits will be at all Timberland libraries.