A Family Read Aloud
Sound corny? Think again. Think about the little ones cuddled up on your lap or beside you, the older ones pretending that they’re not listening, no electronics in sight, even the dog quietly snoring nearby.
Why Should We Bother?
Besides the cuddle factor, there are many great reasons. We all want kids to read more, but we seldom take time to read ourselves. Kids will respond to you showing enthusiasm for reading and maybe look at it a little more kindly. This is one family activity that gives you time together, is enjoyable, and doesn’t cost anything. You can do it at bedtime, over breakfast, or on rainy Saturdays. As you read, often you will come across issues that are worth exploring. Is Mom too busy to pay attention to me? When this comes up in a book, this is a perfect time to stop and talk about it as a family. Many issues can be resolved that might otherwise never have been spoken about, therefore have festered in some young chest.
What Books Do We Choose?
This can be confusing. Many families have toddlers as well as pre-teens. It can be challenging to pick something that everyone would enjoy. Remember that books can be enjoyed on many levels. Older kids can see something funny or interesting in a book that the toddler merely takes at face level.
- You can take turns picking the book. This week it is The Hobbit, (Tolkien). Next week it might be The Boxcar Children, (Warner).
- If you find an author whose books you like, keep going. Following characters through several adventures show how they grow as people, just as your children are growing.
- Don’t be afraid to use board books. Sandra Boynton has so many of these books, and one is more enjoyable than the other. Don’t be surprised if these books spark family jokes that keep being repeated for years!
- Use the Internet. Search for books to read aloud as a family and you’ll see endless lists and blogs from others telling how they enjoyed one title or another.
- Ask a librarian. Unless you have a large collection at home, you probably use your local library. The children’s librarian there will be thrilled to help you choose worthy titles.
- Look at children’s book award lists. These might be posted in the library, but you can always find them online.
What Makes Reading Fun?
- Use your own judgment, but use voices when they are appropriate. The three billy goats speak to the troll in fierce voices, getting lower in timbre as they go from smallest to largest. Your voices will provoke giggles from the younger ones.
- Take turns reading. I read a page or a short chapter, then you read one.
- Taking a long car trip? Find books on CD in your library.
- Take advantage of eBooks and audio book downloads. Using an electronic device for listening to books brings a magical level to the experience, especially for young children.
- Use the stories as springboards to family activities. If the mother in Little House in the Big Woods (Wilder) makes biscuits, make biscuits yourselves.
Whatever you do, enjoy the books and enjoy the experience as a family. You will build good readers, but more importantly you’ll build childhood memories.
by: Patricia Cooke