The other day I was reading my daughter one of our favorite new picture books: Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins. (I really must review this one - it is delightful). Lately she's been chiming in here and there when I am reading a book, and correcting me if I miss something. (The latter occurs frequently when I am sleepy.) But this time she took it a step further, and started making requests for me to change not WHAT I was saying but HOW I was saying it.
Mother Bruce is about a grumpy bear who accidentally becomes the surrogate mother to four goslings. Bruce resists this. On one page, the text says: "Bruce could take it no longer and became EXTRA grumpy with them." A text bubble says: "ROAR!" in big letters. Well, I did say "ROAR!" but apparently I didn't say it loudly enough. My daughter gently chastised me. "Mama, it says he was EXTRA grumpy. Say it like this: ___". And then she roared quite loudly.
A few pages later Bruce is frustrated when the goslings refuse to migrate. There's a page where the only text is "Sigh...". After I read this page I got another: "No, Mama, say it like this: ___". And then she said the gentlest "sigh", on a resigned little exhale.
There are doubtless parents out there who would prefer not to have their reading style critiqued like this. But I found it to be an excellent sign regarding my daughter's appreciation for the read-aloud process. She's able to take in visual cues, like the size and color of the font, and she knows how one is supposed to respond to these cues. She can also take her cues from the text itself. The second example particularly pleases me, because it shows that she understands how the character is feeling, and wants to see that reflected in my reading.
People who stop reading aloud to their kids just as the kids start reading on their own are missing out on many things. Watching your child develop a sense for how a read-aloud is supposed to sound is just one of them. But it's a particularly fun one, I think.
What say you, fellow parents? Do your kids critique your read-aloud style? If not, just you wait...