Friday, August 16, 2019

What Does Reading Aloud Look Like?

People always make me laugh when they tell me their kids don't LIKE to hear them read aloud. I feel like it's really similar to the whole, "My kids won't sit still in church," argument. Well, they may not get it the first time you read aloud to them if you've never done it before (just like they won't sit still the first time they're old enough to go to "Big Church"), but if you practice, they'll get it! (I will mention that there are times when James would rather read to himself. TOTALLY OKAY. You don't want to discourage reading here. I tell him that's fine and that Will and I will read without him. Sometimes he joins us later, sometimes he doesn't. Read-alouds shouldn't replace the reading a kid is doing on his/her own. It should enhance it!)

I started reading to both of my boys when I was pregnant with them, but that doesn't mean we haven't had seasons of squirminess! We practice how to listen well and if they seem to not be listening, I stop reading! Easy peasy! There's no pressure to read a certain amount each day at our house. I want to encourage reading, not discourage it.

{This is during me reading! Blocks, Legos, etc. keep them busy and quiet. They ARE listening even if they're playing!}

A few things will make it easier for you to begin to read aloud to your kiddos...

1. Pick really awesome books! I'll share more of my favorites with you in another post, but this is pretty darn critical for read-aloud perfection. If you pick lousy books or books that are too high or too low for your kids, they aren't going to be very interested. Know how I pick great books? I scour the internet and I think about the books I liked when I was a kid. If I read a book that we own and it completely stinks when I read it out loud, I put it in our Salvation Army box immediately and get rid of it. (Just a warning that typically the first reader/early reader books are horrible and a lot of times anything with a tv character isn't great.) (I'll also mention that just because a suggestion reading level is above where your child reads, that doesn't make it a bad read-aloud! Kids can comprehend far above their own reading level when YOU are reading it to them!)

2. Find your time! My best suggestion is to try reading out loud over several different times of the day. The BEST times for us are times when the boys are occupied with other things that they can do while they listen. A mealtime is a great time to read because typically kids are busy, but not distracted. Bedtime is also great because they're snuggly and quiet and it's time to settle down anyway. We also like reading after school while playing with blocks, small toys, and play dough.

3. Don't get discouraged! If you feel like you're fussing at your kids to sit still and be quiet you're not picking the right time (or the right book). Switch things up. If you get discouraged that they aren't listening, no one is going to enjoy it!

4. Don't be worried if they're moving around! Listening, for kids, looks active sometimes. James is almost 10 and Will is 7 and they both still play, stand on their heads, flip and flop, etc. while I am reading. As long as they aren't talking or making noises, they're welcome to do all of that!

5. Recognize that while you may find a "sweet spot" of reading aloud to your kids, it may not always look that way! We've moved reading aloud around to various times in our day, we've sat all over our house, and we've played and kept ourselves busy with lots of toys! It doesn't look the same today that it did when they were 5 and 2!

6. Audiobooks are ok! I'll talk more about this in another post, but listening to an audiobook counts as reading!!! There are some books that we've found are just BETTER when someone else reads them aloud to us. (This is especially true if the dialect is different!) Audiobooks in the car are AMAZING. You have a captive audience! Turn that on while you're driving around town AND when you're going out of town! 

There are a few things are consistently played with at our house during read-alouds. I'm linking them below for you. Please note that I am an Amazon Associate and if you purchase through the links shared, I will receive compensation.


We're always finding new ways to play quietly! I'll share more another time. Just keep in mind that anything kids can do with their hands (building, coloring, molding clay) where they can focus on what you're reading is the key. You can use things you have around your house! I didn't purchase these items with the purpose of read-alouds in mind. You have plenty of things already that you can use!

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