Six Steps for Reading Aloud to Your Kids

Do you have time to read to your child? Does your child’s teacher scold you for not reading? Do you avoid reading because you just don’t know what to say? Or is it hard to pull your child away from the television or computer for time together?

Even if it is difficult to find the time or convince your children to turn off the electronics, reading aloud to your kids BENEFITS them and you in three important ways.

(1) Reading aloud to children dramatically increases their listening ability. This ability helps them understand and follow directions which leads to better grades.

(2) Reading aloud to children sparks their interest. Increased interest makes them more committed readers.

(3) Reading aloud to children strengthens the emotional bond between adult and child.

So follow these six tips to capture your child’s interest and boost his or her education.

1. Find a Quiet Space – Look for a space in your home that will be quiet and warmly lit, out of the sound of the telephone (land line as well as cell), television, and computer.

My daughter and I read in my bedroom with the door closed. Since it is my space, she feels it’s special.

2. Make it Fun – If your child is old enough to read some or all of the words, let him read. But don’t turn this activity into a reading lesson.

Elementary school teachers tell parents to require students to read ten or twenty minutes each night. I agree that homework is useful. But consider your read-together time separately, and don’t turn that precious bonding experience into a pronunciation and definition lesson.

You want your child to know that reading and listening are fun, interesting, and not just for school.

3. Take Your Time – Stack up the pillows behind you. Start slowly. Read as much as you have time for, but don’t rush to complete a certain number of pages. That technique makes the reading a competition with the clock. This is the time to speak slowly, savor the words, let your child ask questions, talk about the pictures, or imagine the scenes.

4. Address Questions – Sometimes, you will want to suggest the child hold her questions inside for a few pages so you can read through the scene. Then some of the questions might be answered. Also, if you don’t answer every question, you encourage her to think about it for herself.

5. Let the Child Think for Herself – Restrain the temptation to make a moral out of the narrative. Let the child take it for what it means to her. Frame your remarks in a neutral way: “That’s interesting. I wonder why he did that.” Or “I would never have thought to do . . .” If you want to guide her toward a lesson, ask what she “would do if . . .” and then accept her answer. Don’t try to correct her. You can always ask her “Why” and “How” if you want to pursue the idea. Or come back to it later.

6. Have conversations about the story – At the breakfast or dinner table, comment on something you found interesting about the story you recently read together: the pictures, the way the author described the character, the way the characters talked to one another. Gear your comments to your child’s age. Ask your child simple, fact-based questions to start a conversation. Then you can move on to opinions and feelings.

Follow these six easy tips and you’ll be rewarded with a child who LEARNS MORE EASILY, LOVES READING, and EARNS BETTER GRADES!