Monday, March 7, 2016

Speaking and Listening for Preschool Through Third Grade: A Book Review (l)

Speaking and Listening for Preschool Through Grade School, a book review

One of the most informative and practical books on early language development that I have seen in the past several years is a book for teachers written by Lauren Resnick and Catherine Snow.  It was published by the International Reading (Literacy) Association in 2008.  It has a wealth of practical suggestions and includes a video to make ideas even more helpful.

I begin this multi-post review with an overview of the topics:

Introduction:  Learning How to Speak and Listen

1 Habits

2 Kinds of Talk and Resulting Genres

3 Language Use and Conventions

Subsequent Sections are devoted to

Preschool: Exploring and Playing with Language

Kindergarten and First Grade: Discovering New Words and Concepts

Second and Third Grades: Using Language for Real-World Purposes

The authors preface the book with this statement:

“Speaking and listening are the foundations of reading and writing.  A child who does not have a large and fluent vocabulary will have difficulty with every aspect of reading, from recognizing or sounding out words to making sense of a story or set of directions.  A child who can’t tell a story orally will have trouble writing one.  Parents and educators know this instinctively, but have had few resources to rely on in determining what speaking and listing abilities they should expect from children at different ages.”…

They offer 3 reasons children need to develop language skills, beginning early and continuing through their primary school years:

L Speaking and listening are the foundation skills for reading and writing.

2 Speaking and listening make children smarter.

3 Speaking and Listening are academic, social, and life skills that are valued in school and the world.

I would add a 4th:  When children begin “behind” in developing speaking and listening skills, it is difficult for them to make up “lost time” and that “lost time” has serious consequences for their success in general and in school.

Here is a preview of topics covered, for each age group, under the headings above.


^Talking a lot

^Talking to one’s self

^Conversing at length on a topic

^Discussing books


^Inform, entertain, an persuade others

^Present themselves, their topic, or their point of view to others

^Negotiate or propose relationships with others

^Evaluate people, information, or events

^Think, teach, and learn


^Rules of interaction

^Word play and language awareness

^Vocabulary and word choice

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