When we read aloud to children, we expose them to sophisticated language. Every (other) week, I highlight a brilliantly written children’s book that develops children’s vocabulary, a book in which the author doesn’t think “wonderful” is a descriptive word and the story doesn’t sound like it was thrown together by a computer. Every parent slowly comes to the grievous realization (or shock) that the vast majority of children’s books are better off in the trash. This has inspired me to write a year long series on the best read aloud children’s books. Now, let us open the doors to a great one…
DOCTOR DE SOTO BY WILLIAM STEIG
Doctor De Soto is a story about an intelligent mouse that works as a dentist. Doctor De Soto and his wife work together to run their successful dental office, and they have a remarkable reputation. They are perturbed when a fox comes in to be treated, since they refuse to treat any kind of cat. But the fox is in such pain, they agree to treat him anyway. When the fox plans to eat them, they come up with a clever scheme to protect themselves. While the plot is funny and playful, the prose is humorous and witty.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
William Steig is an author you trust. His prose is nearly perfect. He writes like a poet might assemble a poem, carefully scrutinizing each word to make sure it is the best word possible. He makes subtle jokes in his tone, and yes, his book has a tone that you can almost hear. Furthermore, his books use high vocabulary words and language that can improve writing and speech, including “morsel” and “timid” and he steers clear of “fun” and “wonderful” and “great.” I enjoy his writing.
Also, William Steig’s legacy is plain inspiring. He was a prolific writer up until his nineties. He published his last book at the ripe age of 95.
WHY READ ALOUD TO DYSLEXIC CHILDREN
If a child is below grade level, it is critical to read aloud to them. Reading aloud to children helps develop their vocabulary, and later contributes to excellent reading comprehension. While children are learning to decode, they might not be able to read books that teach vocabulary words. In early grades, complex orthographic units are too complicated for a struggling reader or dyslexic reader.
Thus, to develop a students vocabulary who is below grade-level in reading, educators must read to them. And Doctor De Soto is a fine pick.
Reading Elephant offers printable phonics books.