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Reading aloud to kids is one of the best ways to encourage them to become lifelong readers. From the very beginning of life, providing kids with books and the opportunity to share them together can create a love of reading. I started reading to my daughter on her very first night home from the hospital (a tradition started by my parents). I read her a one minute fairy tale from the same book my parents read to me on my first night. She was sleeping and will have no memory of it, but it was the start of our nightly read aloud time; a tradition that she now loves at the age of 21 months.

The benefits of reading aloud to your kids are plentiful. Besides teaching them that reading is important and fun, it also provides you with a set amount of time together where the troubles of the day don’t matter. Shut off the electronics, curl up on a chair or bed and dive into new worlds together. Whether you have a toddler who is just discovering books, or a middle-schooler who already knows how to read, reading aloud together is a great way to bond as a family. There are so many easy ways that you can boost your read aloud to guide your kids toward becoming great readers themselves. You may already be modeling reading strategies for your kids and not even know it! These strategies will help them when it is their turn to read. This can be as simple as asking them questions or looking at the pictures together.

Ask Questions

Asking your child questions while you read is an easy way to get kids into the book, while also modeling an important reading strategy. Good readers ask themselves questions while they read, which help them to interact with the story and gain a better understanding of it. As you read aloud to your child, ask them questions to make them think about what you are reading. This also gives you an opportunity to have a conversation with your kids about their thoughts and feelings on certain subjects.

Check Out the Illustrations

There are some amazing picture book illustrators out there doing remarkable work with different styles and mediums. When you read aloud with your child, take note of the illustrations and talk about what they see. My daughter loves to point out familiar objects while I am reading to her. I love this because sometimes she says words I didn’t even realize she knew yet! If you have a child who is creative and artistic, sharing your interest in the illustrations may encourage their creative side. Preview a new book together by flipping through and looking at the illustrations first. Without reading the story yet, do they think they know what the book is about? This skill of previewing and predicting is another important reading strategy.

Wordless picture books are another fun way to encourage your child’s creativity. While you can’t “read aloud” a wordless book, you can use the illustrations to create your own dialogue and story. Having kids use the pictures to tell the story encourages them to think about story elements and use their imagination to fill in the blanks.

Reread

We all have those books that our kids love to read over and over again. (I’m looking at you Llama Llama Red Pajama). While you may want to roll your eyes when your child takes it off of the shelf, it is actually a good thing! Beyond the fact that it means your child enjoys the book, it also helps them to hear the same book repeated to them. While you are rereading the story, they are picking up new vocabulary words and learning the rhythm of the language. The more times you read a story, the more they may understand the plot each time. Just as you have probably memorized the words,  they are memorizing it as well. This increases their confidence in their understanding of books and encourages them to want to read it as well!

Let Your Child Lead

It is true that reading aloud with your kids may not always be easy. You may get frustrated when they want to get up and down off your lap, or switch books after a few pages, or seem like they aren’t listening at all. This is all okay. Your read aloud time doesn’t have to fit any certain mold. You don’t have to sit down and read one book all the way through while using these reading strategies and discussing the story.

My daughter is almost 2. Some nights our read aloud time involves her standing next to the chair or in the crib, and me reading the first 3 pages out of 5 different books before she decides to let me finish one. And that is okay! She will grow up remembering that we had reading time every night and that we enjoyed reading different books together. Don’t force a “perfect” read aloud time. It will just end up frustrating everyone, and that is not the point. Reading should be fun and this is your chance to teach that to your kids!

Share the Reading

As your kids get older and start to read on their own, you can share the read aloud responsibility. I remember when I was starting to read and I was able to bring home a book from school and read it to my parents during read aloud. I was so thrilled and proud of myself. Letting your child read to you, or read with you, encourages them to read and increases that bond! Change up your read aloud depending on your child’s interests and reading level. Try reading a chapter or two of a chapter book every night. By continuing to read aloud to your kids even as they start to read themselves, you can introduce them to new books at a slightly higher reading level. This can increase their vocabulary and comprehension, and help them to reach that next level.

When they get to a stage where they don’t want to read aloud with you (I’m hoping this day never comes!), suggest maybe reading a book or a series together. While you may be reading it separately, you can discuss the book together and keep developing the relationship and the love of reading.

Bring Books to Life

My goal in starting to write about children’s books was to help bring books to life for kids and encourage a new generation of bookworms. There are so many fun and easy ways to bring reading alive at the end of a book. Do a craft or create a yummy snack inspired by the book. Learn a new skill together. Go on an adventure like your favorite characters. I love taking a new book and seeing how I can use it to increase my daughter’s knowledge of the world and provide her with new memories and experiences. I hope you and your kids see reading as a way to enhance your lives, and I hope it starts with some great read-alouds!

39 comments on “Tips to Rock Your Read Aloud!”

  1. These are great tips! My kids are too young for these questions but I do ask them questions like “Where is the monkey?” or “What color is the flower?” to get them more engaged and interested. My daughter is 2 but she always reads the books that we read on her own and she tries to copy whatever it was that I said.

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

  2. Great Tips. I have been in a bedtime routine of reading aloud to my daughter since she was about 10 months old. Asking her questions has always helped encourage conversation and communication (even when it was just babble).

  3. These are awesome tips! My mom read to us until we were in high school, the books gradually getting longer. It’s something I hope to be able to carry on with my sons!

  4. Reading aloud is as much fun for the reader as the listener, IMHO. We are the The Big Hungry Bear phase right now. Good thing I love that book, too!

    • I agree! Luckily my daughter hasn’t gone through a phase with a book I don’t like (although reading Fox in Socks 10 times a day pushed me pretty close!)

  5. These are such great tips! We read Llama Llama Red Pajama before bed every night. At first, I used to read it, now my daughter “reads” it. So darn cute. But I am working on asking those comprehension questions so gets a better understanding of what’s going on. Thanks for sharing mama!

    • My daughter “reads” it to me too! She loves to comment on the pictures as well – “Oh no!” when Llama Llama is yelling, and “Here she comes” when the Mom is coming up the stairs. I love it!

  6. I love that you read to your daughter from the same book your parents read to you on your first night home. That is so sweet. I don’t think we read to my son on his first night home because it was so hectic, I didn’t even know which way was up! Haha. But he definitely enjoys his pre-nap and bedtime reads now! 🙂

    • That is awesome! I was so excited to share that tradition with her, I don’t even remember what time it was that I finally read it to her!

  7. We read several books daily. In reading your post, I realized that I need to ask questions more. As a teacher, I’m well aware this is important but in the business of life, I forget to do it! Thanks for this reminder! – Amy

    • I totally agree, teacher to teacher. It can be so hard to remember to bring that stuff home, since we try so hard not to bring work home!

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