Tag Archives: learning

Read Aloud Handbook (Book Review Pedcast)

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Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook: Eighth Edition
Read Aloud Handbook

By, Jim Trelease

Penguin Books


Today I am going to bring you another in my book review series. The title of todays book, The Read Aloud Handbook: sounds really dull doesn’t it? But I am here to assure you that this book is anything by dull. It was written back in the 70’s and yet it is still survives and thrives, now in its 6th edition.  The content is as relevant today as it was the day it was written.


I actually started my journey to Jim Trelease’s Handbook by accident. His was not the original book that I set out to review. I was scanning around on Amazon for interesting titles, the way I usually find new books, and I found a book called Book Love by Melissa Taylor. It sounded interesting and I thought it might be helpful for parents sooo, I took the plunge and downloaded it for a book review.  Well, I would say plunge is an appropriate description.  The book is more like notes from an elementary school education class than a book.  I expected a convincing description about how important reading is to the intellectual development of our children, instead I got a skeleton outline of ideas to increase a child’s interest in reading along with lists of warning symptoms that a child may have a vision problem, ADHD, or Learning Disabilities.  I found it difficult to read because of its lack of description and insight.  I gave this book a 1/5 Doc Smo stars.  I don’t think it would be very useful for parents and I found it very dull to read.

Then I remembered a book that I had seen back when I first went into practice back in 1982.  In fact, I owned the book and it was buried in my wife’s extensive book collection.  Somewhere in my subliminal brain I remembered this book as important because not only did I remember that it existed, but I remembered the author’s name, a very unusual thing for me.  So once again, I hit Amazon for the latest edition and boy am I glad I did.  I can see why it’s in its 6th edition. A Classic: interesting, extremely informative, inspiring and dare I say, life changing.  Every parent needs to read this book.  Let me repeat that… every parent to be and parent needs to read this book.

In his handbook, Mr. Trelease, a journalist by trade, makes a incredibly strong argument that reading to your children even before birth and into their teens, is one of the truly great gifts you can give them…and yourself. The author spends the first half of the book giving his readers an understanding of how important reading is to developing language skills for children by sighting key research in child development and child literacy.  I found these studies fascinating to hear about and they seemed to reinforce what I have seen during my life… literate adults tend to raise literate children who, more often than not, succeed in life. He sites studies that starkly point out how children who are read to regularly hear richer and more diverse language during their childhood than those children who are not read to regularly.  Good language and reading skills sets the stage for academic and subsequent financial success in life.  It’s that simple.

In the second half of the book, Mr. Trelease lays out, age-by-age the mechanics of how to make books a vibrant part of your children’s lives.  He even goes so far as to include a list of his favorite titles to consider reading aloud to your children, age by age.

In my opinion, the Read Aloud handbook is a CLASSIC discussion of language, learning, and reading in your child’s life. I gladly give it my highest rating, 5 DocSmo stars on a scale of 1-5.  I encourage everyone listening to give it a read: I am certain you will be glad you did.

As always, I welcome your comments and insights on my blog, www.docsmo.com or post a review on iTunes or Facebook.

This is your pedcast host, Dr. Paul Smolen, who feels it would be a crime, for you not to read to your kids all the time.

Until next time.



From the desk of Doc Smo: A teacher’s influence (Article)

Over the course of my career, I have had the privilege of teaching and mentoring medical students and pediatric residents.    At my medical center, each first year pediatric resident is paired with a local pediatrician to gain  experience in providing general pediatric care to a wide range of children.   When these young doctors first arrive at my office, they are bright and enthusiastic, but, as one would expect, they  lack the confidence and experience that will make them effective pediatricians.  They learn quickly, however, and by their second year they are comfortable and competent with uncomplicated checkups and sick visits.  By their third year, we are having lively discussions about many of the complex problems our patients encounter.

It seems like yesterday that I was in their shoes in my own medical education.  I still correspond with a professor  from med school who had a big influence on my career.   When I showed up for my cardiology rotation as a fourth year medical student, I immediately knew that the chemistry between myself and this professor was strong.  Early every morning we met in the cafeteria to chat about the patient care duties we had that day.   Morning was full of rounds and procedures all over the hospital.  Lunchtime we spent analyzing EKG’s both new and old, and he would patiently teach me some of the nuances of electro-cardiology or heart sounds.  In the afternoon we would often do procedures and see outpatients.  I knew that I was getting something special from my teacher.  When I first started my clinical rotation, I couldn’t hook up the leads for an EKG, but, by the time I finished, I was diagnosing complex heart rhythms.  Amazing–he was teaching me the secrets to mastering medicine.

I strive to provide the same kind of high quality learning experiences for the students I mentor.  Currently I am paired with my sixth resident, Dr. Melissa Taylor, who is in the third year of her program.  Dr. Taylor is already an excellent pediatrician, and I have no doubt that she will take good care of the next generation of children.  Last week, she and I were reviewing topics that we need to discuss before she completes her program next June.  While I was adding things that I want to make sure we cover before she leaves, she turned to me and said, “ Don’t worry, you have already taught me so much!”  Those few words made my day.  Maybe I have had the kind of influence on her that my cardiology professor had on me?  Could it be? I sure hope so.

Your comments are welcome at  www.docsmo.com.   While you are there, explore the hundreds of posts on a wide variety of pediatric topics. Until next time.