From bringing you closer as you share stories to having a special time together at the end of the day, reading aloud to your children has many benefits. Reading isn’t just a part of the school day but a lifelong practice you can reinforce and celebrate at home. You can share favorite books, explore new titles, and read aloud together.
What does it look like to read aloud to your children? A child who might not read independently can sit with you side-by-side as they listen to you read a picture book. Independent readers might take turns reading aloud a chapter book with you as you explore a favorite book from your childhood. The possibilities are endless!
In this blog post, I have nine tips for reading aloud to your children. Reading aloud can happen at any age.
Choose Books Together
Picking out books is a fun activity at any age. You can look at the front cover for clues on what the book is about and flip to the back cover for a quick synopsis of the book. The first tip on the list is to choose books together to encourage your child to talk about what they like and don’t like to read.
Share Your Favorite Books
Although your interests might not always align with your child, you can read aloud books that are favorites of yours as a way to share your own childhood experience with reading. If you didn’t love to read as a child or didn’t have access to many books, you might find a book that discusses a topic you love, like trains, mountains, or historical fiction.
Find a Special Space
We often get into routines with what happens in a particular part of our home. For example, we eat and do homework at the kitchen table and sit on the couch to watch a movie together. If you have the space for a reading nook, this is an excellent way to establish a particular area for reading. If you are tight on space, you might decide on a “reading blanket” you take out for storytime.
Although finding a special space is fantastic, it shouldn’t limit where you read. Whether you keep an ebook on your smartphone for easy access or keep a selection of picture books in the backseat of your car, reading can happen in lots of different spaces. Of course, it’s easy for all of us to pull out our phones to check email or social media, but if you are with your child when waiting for a doctor’s appointment or an oil change, use that time to read a portion of a book together.
Read With Emotion
A quick tip, and a big win, for your next read aloud is to use voices. You don’t have to have any special training or talent to give a character a voice as you read together. Although your child might giggle or roll their eyes, you can use voices as a way to add interest and feeling to your next family read aloud. Reading with emotion doesn’t have to be a task just for you. If your child is up for it, ask them to read the dialogue using their favorite voice, too.
Talk Before You Read
To set up your next read aloud experience for success, carve out a few minutes to chat before opening up a book. If it’s a book you are reading together for the first time, you might ask your child a question like, “Based on the title or pictures on the cover, what do you think this book is about?” If you are in the middle of reading a chapter book with your child, you might ask, “What happened in the last chapter?” or “What do you think is going to happen next?” These types of general questions are great ones to use with any book.
Pause as You Read
As readers, we often have moments that surprise us or lead us to new questions. When we read a book or article, there are times when we want to talk about what we’ve read. For children, these moments may come more frequently if they are exploring a new topic or new set of characters. You can pause when you read to model your own thinking to say something like, “I can’t believe that just happened!” Alternatively, you might pause to ask a question like, “Does this remind you of anything else?”
Debrief After You Read
The end of a book is a natural time to talk about what you’ve just read. You might turn this debrief into a celebration for longer books that have required you to dedicate a few weeks. This can also help your child stick with a book that might have slow parts. For shorter reading engagements, like a picture book, you might prompt your child with a question like, “Would you recommend this to [add the name of a family member or friend]?”
Record Your Read Aloud
The final tip on this list is to record your read aloud using a digital device. You can use a voice notes app on your smartphone or even set up a video recording. This is great for family members who travel and want a personalized collection of videos to share with their children. We know how much children love spending time with the same book over and over again. By recording the first read aloud together, you can have a video to replay in the future if you can’t participate in a live read aloud together.
Reading aloud can happen with a picture book, chapter book, short story, or even a current events article. You can skip between different genres like science fiction or fantasy and even rotate the medium for reading, such as an ebook or hardcover book. If you’re looking for an excellent recommendation for your next read aloud to put these tips into action, head to your local library in person or on the web to see what books they have spotlighted this month!
About Dr. Monica Burns
Dr. Monica Burns, Ed.D. is a curriculum and educational technology consultant, and founder of ClassTechTips.com. She hosts the Easy EdTech Podcast and is author of EdTech Essentials: The Top Ten Technology Strategies for All Learning Environments.
Photo description: An adult holds an open book with a child.