Since I spent last week telling you to read aloud to your kids, I thought this week might be a good time to pass along a few tips in case you’re new to reading aloud or having some problems during read aloud time!
- Find a time that works for you. I typically read aloud to my kids in the morning as a break between subjects and my husband reads aloud to our son before bed each night. I know a mom who reads aloud to her kids while they eat lunch to prevent meal time squabbles between her kids. Once they’re done, they go play and she eats in peace by herself. You could read while you’re in the car—or listen to a book on CD if you’re the driver, while the kids are in the bathtub, or while everyone is winding down for the evening. Everyone’s routine is different, so experiment until you find something that works for you and go with it!
- Let your kids do something while they’re listening. Spend a few minutes with a group of kids and you will quickly see that some kids just can’t sit still. If your child is like that, try to channel their energy into something to do while you’re reading. Let them draw, build with blocks, or play with playdoh. They’ll still be able to listen and you don’t have to stop every 30 seconds to tell them to stop climbing on the couch.
- Tie your read aloud choices in with something else. When I was in the classroom I taught social studies to the entire fifth grade. Even though I had a read aloud going with my homeroom kids, I also used historical fiction read alouds with my social studies kids to add to their knowledge of the time period we were studying. It’s pretty easy to find books that tie in with your studies, events, seasons, etc., and it will increase your kids’ interest, too.
- Find a book that’s been made into a movie. Disclaimer: Read the book first! Sometimes movies are pretty close adaptations and sometimes they’re completely different. Seeing a movie version can lead to some pretty good discussions with your kids. Last winter we read Mr. Popper’s Penguins and then watched the movie. In case you haven’t seen or read both, I’ll tell you that they’re very, very different. Different doesn’t necessarily mean bad, but it does make for some great comparing and contrasting!
- Don’t judge a book by its cover—or its copyright date. Just because something has a plain cover or is old doesn’t mean it won’t be good. Check out different book lists and try some older books your kids may not be familiar with. You might be pleasantly surprised.
- Stick with it. Just because a story starts out slow doesn’t mean it’s not going to get good. Give the book a fair chance to catch your interest.
- Don’t be afraid to quit. Sounds a little bit contradictory to what I just said, doesn’t it? If you have given a book a chance and it’s not for you, it’s okay to leave it. It may not be appropriate for your family or may not interest them or may just be a crummy book. If everyone really hates it, move on!
- Variety is important. I am bad about this. For my personal reading, I almost always read mysteries; for kids’ books I always lean toward historical fiction. If you are reading to multiple children you’re most likely addressing multiple interests, so don’t just stick to one genre. Even if you’re just reading to one child, it’s important to expose them to different types of writing. Mix it up a bit!
- Take turns reading. Especially with your new readers it can be fun to take turns reading. Switch off by pages, chapters, or whatever works for you. Some kids really shine when they’re given the chance to show off their reading skills!
- Consistency is the key. The most important thing about reading aloud is reading aloud. None of the other tips matter at all unless you are spending the time reading! Find a good book, settle in with your kids, and enjoy!