Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Reading Aloud

I've been telling a lot of people lately the merits of reading aloud to your kids. Not just the bed time kind of reading, but the kind that can start at any time and last for hours. So, I thought it would be a good idea to give some pointers on how to get started with reading aloud or how to take the most advantage of it.

The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease is a fantastic book about the benefits of reading aloud to your kids at any age. This book along with a favorite children's picture book is my standard baby gift for new parents. If we travel in the same circles, please don't steal my idea!
Many of you probably are avid readers to your kids, but what do you do if you aren't or if you have tried in the past but have not been successful with it. Maybe your kids don't act interested. Maybe they are too squirmy. I can tell you I have been known to read to my kids two hours at a time and if I stop it is most likely in protest with kids yelling, "More!"

So, how do you get there? By just picking up a book and reading it to your kids. Enthusiastically and consistently. You can't lose!

Most kids enjoy sitting on the sofa or lying on a bed while you read. If you have little ones, they might enjoy some extra cuddle time while you read. Fidgety kids can take a spot on the floor rolling cars or playing with another quiet toy. Some kids really like to sit and draw while we read.

Know your audience! What book, story, plot line would most engage your kids? Do you have a wide age range? You may find you can't read the same book to the whole family. You might have to split them up and read different books to different kids. Even though toddlers can handle sitting in, it doesn't mean they can handle more emotionally mature material. Charlotte's Web is a great read, but it has some more mature themes including death. Make sure your choice will hold the interest of your audience and will be emotionally appropriate for everyone. Tall order? Maybe. So, that's where the choice to read different books for different kids comes in. But I don't have the time? That's where Mr. Trelease would say that parenting was never meant to be a time saving endeavor. So true...so true.

I think the biggest thing is your attitude and excitement over the tale you want to read. Gather the kids around and just start reading! Think about the best time of day for a read aloud. I like to read the most right after breakfast and right after lunch. The reading settles everyone down and gets them in the right frame of mind for doing school. I also read as I wait for doctors (mine or theirs as long as we are all together), on long car trips, outside on a blanket, outside while they swing or play in the sandbox, at home shows while your husband is busy with contractors (just sit the kids in a bunch and kneel down and start reading where ever he is chatting), or like today I read to them while my hair was waiting for the highlights to "take". Yup...foils and all I sat in the waiting area and read to them. You can read at night in the winter when it is dark so early in the evening. It is also a sure fire way to sooth grumpy beans!

So now you might be thinking...what in the world is a good book for reading aloud? The Read Aloud Handbook has a great anthology of book titles to share. Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt is another book that has read aloud recommendations.

I thought it would be fun to share some of our all time read aloud favorites with you here:
  • My Side of the Mountain
  • Chronicles of Narnia
  • The Doll People Triology
  • Redwall
  • The Little House series
  • The Hank the Cowdog Series
  • Nim's Island
  • The Trumpet of the Swan

I'm sure there are more...if I come up with what I've forgotten, I'll be sure to add it. Read aloud veterans good for you! Keep up the great work. Those of you who have not tried or have not been consistent I urge you to keep on trying until it works. Often times I will read aloud to a timid reader until he wants to take the book on his own. I get them into the book and then when they are impatient waiting on me to finish, they pick it up for themselves. How's THAT for clever??

Lot's of really good family time in reading aloud. You won't regret it!


Dana @ Our Sunny Side said...

I agree! Reading out loud is one of our favorite things to do. My kids,ages 7 & 4, beg for me to keep going. I think it shows them that a)reading is fun! and b)how to give voice and emotion to the characters. Plus it's just great when you all know a story together and can talk about it through the day or remember it weeks or months later when something funny happens. Great post!

Anonymous said...

I had to comment about "Honey for a Child's Heart" by Gladys Hunt. That book is 40 years old and one that was on my book shelf as a young mother. Amazing that it is still around and influencing the next generation!

love, Grandma

Amy said...

We read aloud a lot at our house, too. : ) I blog most of our chapter-book read-alouds, and I host a little carnival called Read Aloud Thursday where I share (mostly) our favorite picture books. It's open to all. Here's a link ---> http://hopeistheword.wordpress.com/category/read-aloud-thursday/

Heather said...

Isn't it? The newest version is probably a lot nicer, but I'm pretty sure mine is as old as yours was!

Love, Heather