James J. (Jim) Trelease of East Longmeadow, MA, who turned an idea he stumbled on while visiting Connecticut Valley classrooms into a New York Times bestseller titled The Read-Aloud Handbook, and a 25-year national speaking career, died July 28th, 2022
of Parkinson’s related complications. Jim was 81 years old.
Born in Orange, New Jersey, to Jane (Conlan) and George Trelease, Jim moved to Springfield in 1956. Trelease was a graduate of Cathedral High School, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and served as an officer in Vietnam.
He is also well known for taping a rebroadcast of Chamberlain’s 100-point game off the radio while in his dormitory room at UMass. In the ensuing years all other recordings of the game were lost or damaged. In the early 1990’s he discovered his was
the only surviving tape. In 2016 the Library of Congress named the Chamberlain recording one of the 25 added that year to the National Recording Registry...
He said it's crucial, with young children, not to make reading appear to be the thief of screen time. Quote:
"The TV goes off at 8:30 p.m. If you want a story before bed, that's fine. If not, that's fine too. But no TV after 8:30 p.m."
Another quotation of his:
"Fathers should make an extra effort to read to their children. Because
the vast majority of primary-school teachers are women, young boys
often associate reading with women and schoolwork. And just as
unfortunate, too many fathers would rather be seen playing catch in
the driveway with their sons than taking them to the library. It is
not by chance that most of the students in U.S. remedial-reading
classes are boys. A father's early involvement with books and reading
can do much to elevate books to at least the same status as sports in
a boy's estimation."
I remember that in "The Read-Aloud Handbook," there
was a girl who kept pretending she couldn't read because her bedtime
storytime with her very busy mother was the only real time they had together at all, and she was afraid that would disappear if she started reading on
her own. She may have been right, but when she finally expressed her
fear, things turned out well for her.)
Elsewhere, he told the mother of a preteen boy who "hates to read" but who in fact reads every issue of Sports Illustrated cover to cover that it would help her son if SHE took more of an interest in Sports Illustrated. (Or, at least, it would be a start.
More anecdotes from Trelease:
"...I remember the remedial-reading teacher who told me about her frustrations in trying to find the right book for the worst class she'd ever had. This happened to be a sixth-grade class but the lesson applies to all grade levels. First she tried '
Charlotte's Web'; they thought it was corny. Then she tried 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'...half the class liked it, half didn't. At last she struck upon 'J.T' by Jane Wagner, the story of a black boy straddling the edge of delinquency. The class
loved it so much that half of them found extra copies and finished it ahead of her.
"The teacher admitted her mistake was in not tailoring her first selections to the kind of class she had - a group of restless, nonreading, street-wise, inner-city kids. Make your INITIAL choices for a group like that something they can relate to win
their interest, catch their hearts and ears. A few selections of this kind and you'll have won their confidence, after which you can broaden the scope of their reading and introduce them to other times and other places than their own."
And here's one of the most memorable anecdotes from 1974, starring his own two young children and their frightening withdrawal symptoms when forced to go without TV, starting at the bottom of page 6: