I love to read out loud to children. It has always been a joy to me. There is something about making the words and the stories come alive. I fully believe in engaging children in reading through alive and active reading.


IMPORTANCE OF READING SKILLS

It is important for our children to be read to. Pediatricians recommend reading to our babies right from birth. Reading aloud teaches a baby about communication and introduces concepts such as numbers, letters, colors, and shapes in a fun way. It also builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills and provides information about the world around us.

By the time babies reach their first birthday they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language. The more stories you read aloud, the more words your baby will hear and the better they’ll be able to talk.

father reading to baby
read to your children from birth

It is important for pre-readers to know how to hold a book, to notice print, and to how to follow the text on the page. Having books read to them instills these principles. 

For me I always struggle if a book is read in a “boring” way. Yes, it has always been easy for me to read with expression and capture the attention of children while reading out loud. I don’t deny that. But I do know that it is something that you can learn to do and it becomes easier with practice. Let’s make our reading alive!


HOW TO READ TO CHILDREN

Here are some strategies to help reading come alive for your children. These are all things that I do.

  • Predict: read the title (if it’s a new book) and look at the cover illustration and ask what they think it is about and what might happen.
  • Take moments in the story to stop and ask what they think might happen next. Try not to have just yes and no answers.
  • Ask “what” questions. (“What’s this?” and point to a picture) and follow up with another question that relates.
  • Use different voices for the characters. Make the animal noises. 
  • Use different inflection, tone, volume. Being monotone is boring (truth be told).
  • Stop and ask what a word is, having your child sound it out.
  • Trace the line of text with your finger to show that we read from left to right.
  • Be willing to answer any questions the child has while reading. I know that this can be frustrating, especially when you are in an age of inquisitiveness and it feels like a 4 minute book is going to take 4 hours, but it is worth the time to answer them. It is a great connection point for you, but it also cements for them the reading relationship between words and ideas. 
  • If the book you are reading is in rhyme, pause before the second rhyme and ask your child to guess what word is missing.

BEING MONOTONE IS BORING (TRUTH BE TOLD)

Mrs B.
boy with book and shocked expression on face

Other things to note for reading alive:

  • Allow your children to choose books, providing direction if you have a specific idea in mind. Following your child’s interests will engage them in reading. I *might* hide books from time to time because I don’t want to read them AGAIN, but I generally let my girls choose their books to read and it surprises me what they are interested in and what they are in the mood for. Funnily enough, if we are running late for bedtime they will, without a doubt, choose the 2 longest books we have. 
  • If you have time, after each book discuss what you liked and didn’t like about the story. Use the story as opportunities for discussion and information gathering.
  • It’s okay to stop in the middle of a book if a child seems uninterested.

MAKE THE ORDINARY COME ALIVE

It really is wonderful to make text on a page come alive. I know that I can be tired and really not in the mood to read a book but when I start reading out loud then everything seems better.

My husband still tells the story of one very stormy day which also happened to be our daughters’ birthday party. We crammed far too many people into our little house. While my husband hid the lollies/candy for the treasure hunt, I read a story to the children (all 20+ of them) in the back bedroom. He came to say that things were ready and he saw all the children engaged and captivated in the story. The general consensus of the children was that the story had to be finished before the game. I take that as a win.

woman with book

JUST GO FOR IT

You might not feel comfortable with reading out loud, or it hasn’t been easy for you. That is totally ok. Just try one little thing each time and have fun with it. These little changes will make a difference for your children – and hopefully will lead to a lifelong love of reading!

Check out the video from last week about Bedtime Stories. These go hand in hand 😉

Michayla Best

For over 30 years I have worked with children in a variety of capacities, whether as a teacher or tutor, a babysitter, a camp leader, or family advocate. I have always found a way to connect with children, to help them understand themselves and the world around.

I am Mummy to trinational twincesses who keep me on my toes with their questions, their commentaries, their shenanigans and acts of spontenudity.

Wife, world traveler, musician, crafting queen and self-proclaimed nerd; I love to take what I see, glean, know and help families to find their groove and be successful.

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