Want to read aloud to your children but don’t know where to start? Here are five read-aloud tips for every age.
My father loved to read aloud, and I loved to listen to him.
Dad pulled readers in from the very first line, keeping them rapt in wonder and hanging on every word. His voice was a smooth tenor, resonant, dramatic, and silly all at once. He could inspire a multitude of audiences, from his peers at a work or prayer meeting, to the children he taught as an elementary school librarian.
Reading aloud with Dad was an event to treasure. Today, I’d like to share with you some of the tips I learned from watching my father read aloud.
5 Read Aloud Tips for Every Age
Choose the Right Title
Select authors whose use of language not only paints a picture, but brings out the musical aspects of the written word as well. Is there rhyme? Repetition? Are there silly nonsense words that tickle the tongue or imitate noises in real life? The more entertaining the language is that you have to work with, the more exciting and vivid your read aloud will be.
Put Yourself on Stage
Assume voices for each character. Match the tenor of the story with your voice, modulating your volume or changing your speed as necessary. Wrap yourself and your audience up in the story – an enthusiastic reader equals an enthusiastic listener.
Explore the Illustrations
A picture book’s artwork adds to the story in the text. Do you see items or objects you have never encountered before? What are they, and how do they fit into the story? Interacting with a book’s artwork adds another, more tactile element to reading a story aloud.
Relish the experience
Reading to or with a child builds and strengthens bonds. It communicates to the child that you’re interested in her, reinforcing a sense of belonging. Take your time and be in the moment. Sitting down for a read aloud tells your child that he matters.
Let go of the age
Never assume a child is too old for read alouds. My father used to read to his eighth grade library students, and my high school students gained much from reading portions of a text aloud. They may seem uninterested at first, but it’s worth giving a try.
Dad died before any of my children were born. Reading aloud to them not only allows me to feel his presence; it helps my children get a sense for who he was as well. Build the same connection with your children through reading aloud. Both of you will benefit from the connection.
Further read aloud resources:
Best-selling author, speaker and educator Jim Trelease shares his passion for reading aloud. His Read Aloud Handbook and website offer a multitude of strategies for reading aloud and reveal the reasons why we should.
This award honors books “that reflect the universal read aloud standards that were created by the work of author E.B. White”. Past winners include Judy Schachner’s Skippyjon Jones.
Sarah Mackenzie’s podcast and membership site helps parents foster a love of reading aloud to their children.