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The Big Payoff of Reading Aloud to Kids of All Ages

Reading aloud to kids

Out of all the different ways that parents can improve a child’s education, the number one thing costs no more than a free library card and time. We can read to them.

In 1983, the U.S. Department of Education was concerned about low academic performance scores, so they funded a Commission on Reading who spent two years combing through thousands of research reports conducted over the previous twenty-five years, and in 1985 they published their findings in a report titled Becoming a Nation of Readers. Amidst all of their digging, they discovered that reading out loud to kids is the number one most important thing we can do to help our kids become successful learners.

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” the report said. “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”

I’ve Seen It First Hand

As homeschool parents, we have the privilege of watching our kiddos learn to read, and I’ve noticed that reading seems to happen in different ways for different kids. My third child took to reading like a fish in water. He just got it, and by the time he was four years old, he we pretty a fluent reader, who could zip through simple chapter books without any help from me. One of my kids magically taught herself to read. She’s our fifth child, and I guess she just didn’t want to wait for me to get around to teaching her, so she piled a stack of books on the couch, day after day and flipped through them. We would all smile at her cutest, but never in a million years did we think should would be successful. Honestly, we were floored when she emerged from her daily ritual a few months later able to read completely on her own. We still don’t know how she did it. The next kid did a similarly amazing thing. He asked us to put the captions on whenever he watched TV or a movie, and low and behold, that little bugger learned to read! But a couple of my kids didn’t take to it so easily.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Surprised by Zootopia

Opens in theaters tomorrow, March 4th

zootopia

I have to admit that I didn’t expect much from Zootopia, but boy was I wrong! I had the chance to see it earlier this week with our resident YouTube reviewer (a.k.a Griffyn Stahlmann or “G to the S,” as he refers to himself), and we were both surprised at how good it turned out to be.

The newest feature film from Disney is set in the modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia, a city comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown. Zootopia is a melting pot where animals from every environment, whether or predator or prey live together harmoniously.

The story centers on a rookie police officer Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), who has overcome decidedly insurmountable odds to achieve her dream of becoming the first bunny cop. In spite of her success at the police academy, Officer Hopps has to work extra hard to prove herself, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman), in order to crack a seemingly cold case.

Beneath the typical “kid story” of believing in yourself and working hard to become anything you put your mind to, there were underlying stereotypes, prejudices and judgements that threatened the harmony of Zootopia and the hopes of the film’s heroes.

The plot takes some unexpected turns along the way, holding the attention of the kids and the adults in the audience. It’s a fun and meaningful story that the whole family can enjoy.

Zootopia opens in theaters tomorrow, March 4th. It’s a great pick for a family movie, but you can skip the 3-D if you’re on a budget this week. I happen to enjoy 3-D and would probably see every movie that way if I could, but I know that a lot of people do not share my enthusiasm for it. If that’s you, Zootopia would be just as exciting in the standard format. We got to see it in 3-D, and there was nothing particularly exceptional about it.

If you head out to the theaters this weekend, stop back and tell us what you thought of Zootopia! And if you’d like to see Griffyn’s review, click here.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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