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UMass grad releases sixth edition book

By Erin O'Connor , Staff Writer

SPRINGFIELD Local author Jim Trelease has released the sixth edition of his book, "The Read Aloud Handbook."

Trelease is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and a former award-winning artist and writer for the former "Springfield Daily News."

The book was initially self-published with its first release in 1979 and Penguin Books currently holds the publishing rights.

Trelease has directed the contents of the book into nine chapters. Titles of the chapters include "Why read aloud", "The stages of read-aloud", "TV, audio and technology: hurting or helping literacy" and others.

Trelease does a thorough job of reciting statistics and real life examples of subject matter in the book. It is evident through his writing style that many of the topics discussed in the book are ones he has absorbed through years of hands-on experience.

A parent and teacher himself, Trelease explains why reading aloud is so important.

He promotes the following philosophy throughout the book, "reading aloud to your child is one of the best things that you can do to enrich their learning." He illustrates his points with examples of various studies.

Trelease dedicated much of the book to explaining content to parents, teachers and young readers. He states that it is not just reading but the reading material that connects to the child's age.

He presented evidence that supports computers in school used to tally the amount of literature that the child has read can destroy the enjoyment of reading by turning it into a fast-paced competition.

One statistic that Trelease reported on from the Commission on Reading is that the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."

Trelease further illustrated this point through examples. He describes a study conducted by Warwick Elley for the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) in 1990 and 1991.

This study involved 32 countries and assessed 210,000 nine and 14 year-olds and found which children read the best. American children ranked high for nine-year olds but the scores dropped dramatically when children reached eighth grade.

The study found that reading is an accrued skill and U.S. children do less of it as they grow older. Trelease said that the scores declined when compared with countries where children read more as they mature.

"Reading aloud is the catalyst for the child wanting to read on his own, but it also provides a foundation by nurturing the child's listening comprehension," Trelease stated. "In an international study of 150,000 fourth-graders, researchers found that students who were read to often at home scored thirty points higher that students who were read to sometimes."

Trelease does not give a cut-off for the reading-aloud benefits to happen. He emphasized starting as early as possible, but did not rule out starting at anytime. He said in the book that he read-aloud to his children well into their high school years.

Trelease addressed issues regarding reading-aloud to children with "special needs." He wrote of a letter he received from a reader of a previous edition of the "Read-Aloud Handbook" who had a child that was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

"For the past seven years we have read to Jennifer at every opportunity. She is now in the first grade and is one of the best readers in her class," the letter stated.

Trelease's book is inspiring for parents and anyone interested in education.

Trelease has a theme throughout the book which involves telling parents not to push a child into reading on their own.

"We have instant pudding, instant photos, instant coffee- but there are no instant adults. Yet some parents are in a hurry to make their children old before their time. However, Finland has higher reading scores than the United States and everyone else despite the fact that its laws forbid the formal teaching of reading until the child is seven years of age," Trelease states.

Trelease illustrates do's and do nots of read-aloud that include: "beginning reading to children as soon as possible;" "reading as often as you and the child or student have time for;" "don't read stories that you don't enjoy yourself;" "don't continue reading a book once it is obvious that it was a poor choice;" and other helpful tips.

Trelease also went into subjects such as "Are good books being ruined by movies?" "Does a computer in the home or classroom improve students' scores?" "Is there an amount of TV that is not harmful to children?" There are other areas of study in the "Read-Aloud" that are examined by Trelease.

Trelease's treasury of books includes such titles as 'James and the Giant Peach", "The Indian in the Cupboard", "Chocolate Fever", "Where the Wild Things Are" and many others.

This book was a very good read that flowed smoothly and comfortably for more information about the book visit