Reading Tips for Parents: The Read Aloud
As aware as we are about the benefits of reading, engaging in a read aloud can sometimes feel awkward or contrived. Sandwiched in between bath time and bedtime, and often the last step before getting something done, it can be hard to muster the necessary enthusiasm for a great read aloud. Here are four reading tips for parents to help ensure that your read aloud experiences are enjoyable for both you and your child.
FOLLOW THEIR LEAD
In order to engage young readers, follow their lead. Very young readers may prefer looking at or discussing the images to sharing the story, or many opt to simply flip through the pages. Allow older children to choose a book based solely on it's cover or to read the same book for the 1,000th time. You will be surprised how many of the benefits of reading they absorb even when they don't appear to be listening!
MAKE IT INTERACTIVE AND FUN
Increase read aloud enjoyment for both you and your child by making the experience interactive. Break out your inner thespian and lend a voice to each of the stories' characters and ditch a monotone retelling in favor of a more animated delivery. Act out a favorite battle scene armed with paper towel roll swords and pillow case capes. Read in a tent in the back yard, under the sheets with a flashlight, in a pillow fort, or snuggled up in mom's favorite armchair. The possibilities are limitless!
TIE BOOKS INTO THEIR INTERESTS
Increase the relevance and enjoyment of your read aloud by tapping into your child's interests and activities. Planning a trip to Boston's Public Garden? Be sure to read Robert McCloskey's "Make Way For Ducklings" before you go. Better yet, bring the book with you and compare McCloskey's illustrations of the capital building, swan boats and duck pond with the actual layout and scenery. Budding astronomers might enjoy reading biographies of famous astronauts, tales of historical space missions, or informative pieces about astronaut training and life in space. Don't limit yourself to books on specific topics, rather use them as a hook to entice young readers, and then as a spring board to branch out into different topics, genre and interests.
CREATE VALUE IN BOOKS
Additional reading tips for parents wanting to ensure a great read aloud (and the accompanying benefits of reading) are to increase the excitement quotient of the books themselves. Engage young readers by giving books as gifts for special occasions or as rewards for a job well done. Enroll your child or grandchild in a Children's Book of the Month Club or subscribe to a monthly magazine. The excitement and anticipation children experience waiting for each month's delivery can't be overestimated. As children learn to value the physical book, their enjoyment of the reading experience and therefore the benefits of read alouds will increase as well.
Pepper your read alouds with these four simple reading tips for parents, and you and your child will soon begin to see the benefits of reading aloud.