Why read aloud books?
There are so many benefits to reading aloud to your children. So, why read aloud books? As a teacher and a mom, I can tell you that read alouds are my favorite time of the day. There is something special about that time you spend reading aloud together. Your kids are captivated by words, by your inflections in your reading, and by books. Is there anything more magical than that?
Even if you have a Fluent Reader Freddie, you should read aloud a book! (Not sure what type of reader you have? Take the quiz with tips and strategies here!) I think many parents stop reading once their own child can read themselves. As Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer, points out,
“We do not age out of read alouds.”
(If we did, the audiobook industry would not be thriving). Think about your own reading habits. I know I listen to Audible on the go and enjoy listening to books. The same is true for our own kids, even if they are fluent readers!
Read Aloud Books for Your Relationships
I think we all know that reading aloud helps your child fall in love with books. I have fond memories of curling up on my mom’s lap or looking forward to our class read-aloud time- even in 8th grade! Reading aloud helps build your relationship with your kids.
The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading. It isn’t achieved by the book alone, nor by the child alone, nor by the adult who’s reading aloud- it’s the relationship winding between all three, bringing them together in easy harmony.
-Mem Fox, Reading Magic
Mem Fox is a children’s book author and author of the book Reading Magic, an entire book devoted to the benefits of reading aloud to children!
In the spirit of reading aloud, my product, Bonding with Books, takes a children’s chapter book and transforms it into a family read aloud experience. As you turn the pages of the book, you find different Post-Its signaling you to open a small gift or complete a family activity that connects to the story. The idea is to get your child excited about reading and getting the whole family involved in the experience! You can read more here.
When should you read aloud to kids?
Anytime! I firmly believe in always reading before bed time. When I speak to moms groups, I always encourage them to find another time during the day to read aloud other than bed time. Can you read aloud at breakfast? Can you listen to an audiobook in the car together? You can read more tricks to squeeze in reading during the day here.
I used to find any excuse to read aloud to my class- after recess to calm us down, at the end of the day when things get a little crazy, at the beginning of a lesson to make connections to what we were learning.
I started that this year with my own kids while we are distance learning. Transitions are hard for kids, so we struggled going from screen time all morning to eating lunch and being respectful. I started reading aloud different chapter books for the first ten minutes of lunch. It truly was amazing how different their “recess” time was once we transitioned nicely from our screens with a read aloud!
How much time should I spend reading aloud to my kids?
There’s no guideline for the right amount of time to read aloud to your child, but I would argue the more time you spend, the better! Teachers advocate for 20 minutes of independent reading per day. That’s in addition to whatever reading they are doing in school or hearing from you!
If you have an emergent or a beginner reader, you’ll be reading aloud to them simply because they cannot read independently. Not sure what type of reader you have? Take the quiz here!
For younger readers, Mem Fox recommends 3 books per day, a favorite, a familiar, and a new book. She clarifies that if your child wants to read the same book for forty minutes that’s fine too! I know my toddler will read the SAME book straight for twenty minutes. It drives me crazy, but she can now “read” Goodnight Moon to me, so I’m calling that a win 😉
What should I read aloud?
There are so many options for children’s books! I would definitely recommend finding books that interest your child. The more interest they have in what you’re reading, the more they will want to read with you!
If you’re looking for specific book choices that I love as a mom and a reading specialist, take the quiz here, and you’ll get book suggestions once you find out what type of reader you have!
I spend a lot of time picking out books to include in my Bonding with Books boxes. I try to pick high-interest books that I know your children will enjoy and add to the stories with small gifts and activities. You can see my selections here.
When do I stop reading aloud to my kids?
Never! I had a friend tell me that she remembers her mom sitting on the edge of her bed reading aloud to her in high school. HIGH SCHOOL! That’s amazing. Guess what?! She still loves to read. It’s easy to want to stop reading aloud to our kids once they can read independently.
Mem Fox explains in Reading Magic:
“If we are always reading aloud something that is more difficult than children can read themselves then when they come to that book later, or books like that, they will be able to read them- which is why even a fifth grade teacher, even a tenth grade teacher, should still be reading to children aloud. There is always something that is too intractable for kids to read on their own.”
Remember, your child can comprehend much higher than they can read independently. By reading aloud to them, you are giving them exposure to harder texts and these can lead to great discussions.
What’s your next family read-aloud? Let me know in the comments! If you need a family read-aloud activity box, be sure to check out Bonding with books here!