Inside: We want our children to love good literature and know the benefits of read alouds. But how do we get them there? Here are my best read aloud tips for parents.
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It was our first year homeschooling, and I was slightly more enthusiastic than my children in the family reading department. I found one of my favorites from childhood at the local discount store and happily added it to our bookshelf, hardly able to contain my excitement at the joy I imagined it would bring my children.
I was wrong.
The first chapter went well. I thought I’d really nailed this whole read aloud thing. But by day three, my hopes were dashed, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was tucked back into its new home on our bookcase.
How to Help Your Child Love read Alouds: My Best Tips
Have you ever had a similar situation?
I was bummed but knew it just wasn’t the right time to start the more substantial literature with my children. They weren’t ready, and the last thing I wanted was to trudge on in frustration for all of us.
SPOILER ALERT: We were able to read it a year later, when they all truly enjoyed it (even our 4-year-old).
So how can you help your children thirst for good literature at a young age?
1. Build Up to It
One of the key issues when we first started was that I wanted to read them something too substantial right out of the gate. They weren’t mentally prepared for the type of read aloud I was trying to present to them.
This doesn’t always have to do with age. For example, when we started, my older daughter was 5, and she wasn’t ready to listen to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe yet. But as I mentioned, my younger daughter loved the same book at age 4 when we read it as a family the following year.
So it’s based more on what they’ve listened to before. Directly out of public preschool, my older daughter had only listened to easier books with lots of pictures. But our time homeschooling has allowed us to start with simpler chapter books and work our way up to the good stuff.
The first chapter book we read was the Treehouse Town series from The Good and the Beautiful. It had lots of pictures but a simple and wholesome story to follow.
Shortly after that, our history curriculum involved a mystery set in ancient Egypt called Boy of the Pyramids. The kids loved it and were even able to solve the mystery before the end of the book. It was on a 6th grade level, had minimal drawings included and had much longer chapters, which clued me in that they were ready for more.
Afterward, we started the Chronicles of Narnia series and have enjoyed it ever since!
2. Limit Instant Gratification
We live in a world where our children are being trained that gratification comes quickly. Frequent access to games and activities on tablets or phones causes our children’s patience level to be low.
Who wants to sit around during a novel while the author explains what a scene looks like, when they’re used to being satisfied so quickly on an electronic device? We set them up for literary failure (and difficulty in life in general) when we get them used to the idea of things coming quickly and happening completely under their control.
Our children do have tablets but only play on them around twice a month at this point. We use them mainly for trips or to help grandparents out during a sleepover. We do allow a set amount of TV time each day, but once they choose something, they aren’t allowed to switch to something else. If they no longer want to watch what they’ve chosen, they go find a different activity to do.
3. Encourage In-Depth Conversations in Daily Life
While this may not seem like a read aloud related tip, it is! Part of preparing our children for good literature is preparing their mind for harder concepts or vocabulary that they aren’t used to. In-depth and challenging conversations can help with that. As you go about your day and certain questions arise, don’t shy away from explaining hard things to your child.
4. Flex Their Logic Muscle
Critical thinking skills will help your children stay focused on the flow of the story and piece together important details. It will also help them use context clues when they hear a new word. (And of course, it’s fine if they also ask you what a word means too!)
Another way to improve logic skills is to solve puzzles of various forms (jigsaw puzzles, sudoku, cryptic puzzles, riddles, matching games, etc.).
5. Make It Special
Have a special reading spot, cuddle up close, or do some other special thing to designate reading time.
Also make it more fun by doing voices for different characters and using your voice inflection to convey action. It will keep them hooked! In the beginning I felt silly and wasn’t confident yet in my ability as their teacher. But when I became more comfortable and loosened up, it definitely helped their interest level.
Another great way to make read alouds special is to do extra projects that go along with them. My children enjoy painting their favorite scenes from whatever book we’re reading.
6. Don’t Force It
If you start a few chapters and realize it’s not working, don’t be afraid to put the book down and restart from the beginning in a few months or even a year (like us).
Remember, the goal is to help our children LOVE good literature. That won’t happen if you’re frustrated, they’re frustrated, and the whole thing feels like a chore.
Do your children enjoy read alouds? What struggles do you face concerning read-aloud-time? Drop a comment below. I’d love to help where I can!
Until next time,
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