Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Read Aloud: Calming Fears, Creating Bonds

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

For some parents, naptime and/or bedtime can be a challenging time - every day. I was speaking with a parent the other day and this topic opened somehow and I began to think about this. I wondered if the sound of the parents voice would calm the child as he/she lay waiting for sleep. That is when I had an idea.

Many parents do it and it is a fantastic literacy extension and a great way to deepen a child's love of being read aloud to. Choose some of your child's favourite suwar (pl. of surah), ahadith, stories of anbiya', etc. and record yourself (or a loved one whom your child is familiar with) reading them aloud. Burn them onto a cd and put this CD on at naptime or bedtime.

Perhaps some of the fears of bedtime - the dark, the noises that are now unfamiliar because the source of the noise cannot be seen, etc. - may be soothed by the beauty of the Quran and the sound of a parents voice...waallaahu alim. I use this same concept in my classroom although not for that reason.

In my classroom, as in many many classrooms, students have access to the listening centre. Here they are invited to listen to stories read aloud. I love to see students sitting nestled in bean bags, among pillows, or among friends, completely engaged in the story being narrated to them. It was when I was watching them that I became profoundly aware of the impact that literacy has on children. They retain so much of the story, so much so that they mimic the characters speech and behaviours. Here again, I saw the importance of screening the books that enter my classroom but I also saw just how absorbed the children become while listening to a story being read aloud.

Even as we sit together on our carpet and I read aloud to my students, I am keenly aware of the complete silence, the lack of movement on the part of the students, the upturned faces, alight with anticipation, and then as the story unfolds and meanders along, I see the students eyes. They are glossy and smiling and most of all, they reflect contentment. Subhana'Allaah, the power of reading aloud.

This is a profound experience that all parents should take advantage of insha'Allaah. It may not always be possible to sit with your child(ren) and read a book whenever they wish, however, you can utilize the computer, or a CD player and still give them the gift of literacy wrapped in the beauty of your voice. Of course, I do not believe that the recorded voice can ever replace the immeasurable pleasure derived from a parent sitting with a child and reading to him/her. This is an experience that is indescribable subhana'Allaah, so I always advocate this method above all others. But if time is short or many tasks compete for your attention, this is a wonderful alternative.

Shaykh Al-Uthaimeen (rahimahullah) used to do such things for his children. In an interview his wife related, "that the Shaykh (rahimahullah) used to record some short recitations and nasheed for his children and sometimes in the presence of one of the neighbors' kids. He then would re-play the cassette to them during some meeting with them at older ages."

Reading aloud, in its varied formats, is a gift that is precious, free and irreplaceable. Now the only question left to ask is, "Which stories will you record for your children insha'Allaah?"

May Allaah allow you to choose well, read well and enjoy the experience (and your children too).


  1. Masha Allaah you are correct sis, children really absorb like sponge. Masha Allaah I do not need to record sis, Maimoonah is recites all the soorahs she knows and falls asleep eventually. Only thing is that we feel sorry for our ears at times smile!

  2. Loool...masha'Allaah tabarak Allah! Ya Maimoonah, you enjoy reciting to yourself sah? Alhamdulillah! May Allaah make it easy on your ears Umm Maimoonah *smile*.