On Reading Aloud
“The act of reading to a child is the most important contribution to the future of our society that adults can offer.” — Anita Silvey in Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book: Life Lessons from Notable People from All Walks of Life.
Teachers, your students are never too old to hear great stories. Consider these guidelines on the National Children’s Book & Literacy site. Educators and families can get strategies, reading research, podcast, author interviews and more at Reading Rockets: Teaching Kids to Read and Helping Those Who Struggle. For more blogs by educators, check out Teacher Portal.
Guidelines for Family Read-alouds
© Set aside a traditional time each day (bedtime, etc.) and find a cozy place to snuggle.
© Involve children by having them point out objects, repeat words or phrases, or talk about illustrations, either during or after the story.
© Reread your child’s favorite books upon request, again and again.
© Read with expression! Try different voices for various characters.
© Adjust the pace to fit the story. You might need to slow down. When the story gets scary or suspenseful, you might lower your voice, even whisper.
© Preread as much as you can. If you’re familiar with the book, you can choose the voice and tone that fit the story.
© Consider your child’s interests in the selection of books to read. If they like trucks, find books featuring trucks. It’s all about their interests, not yours.
© It’s fine to read a bit above their reading level — but not above their emotional level. Don’t rush into the Harry Potter series, or even the masterful Narnia series by C.S. Lewis if your child isn’t ready to discuss concepts such as good vs. evil, or the role of sacrifice for humanity’s sake.
© When reading to children widely separated by age, it’s usually best to read them different books. This allows you to tailor story time to each child’s interests and emotional maturity.
A few additional tips …
© Set an example. Let your children see you reading. Reading only after the children go to bed doesn’t demonstrate that reading is an important part of your life. And reading screens dilutes that message. Think about it; you can do all sorts of things on screens, but when you have the paper version in front of you, it’s clear what you’re focused on.
© Make books, magazines, and newspapers convenient and accessible — in the car, in the family room, in the bedroom.
© Practice mindfulness and limit screen time. Keep computers in a public space, such as your family room. Delay the purchase of phones for young people as long as feasible. They will still make some mistakes, but the older they are, the better equipped they should be to deal with conflicts and issues such as bullying. When you do give your offspring a phone, set limits and discuss the potential uses and abuses of that mini-computer. And remember, you are the parent, and it is up to you to be aware of what they’re doing with technology.
© Don’t stop reading aloud as soon as your child can read independently. Enjoy these years while they last.
© Consider audio-books or podcasts for trips, for enjoyment, and for reluctant readers.
© Visit your local library often. You and your children will be more adventurous in your reading choices if you aren’t paying for them. You’ll typically find greater variety and better quality in libraries than in bookstores.