The Power of Reading Aloud

The Power of Reading Aloud

Friday, December 2, 2016 - 7:58am
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Now that my children are teenagers, I don’t get the opportunity to read aloud to them on a daily basis. Recently, I was going through some books at home and came across several of our favorite stories from their elementary school days. Just holding the books brought back great memories of reading before bedtime. The first chapter book I read to my daughter was E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. I read each page with excitement, and we both cried at the end. As soon as the tale was over, my daughter begged me to read it again.

Luckily, there are many great books to read aloud. And being that I work at a great school, I’d like to offer a few suggestions for your read-aloud journey:

1. Resources to help

Your school librarian, classroom teacher, and best friend can all provide helpful hints for that next great book to read aloud. Jim Trelease’s book, The Read Aloud Handbook, is full of great lists and helpful suggestions as you look for new material to read to your child — or you can check out his website. PDS boys read a lot, and we like to make it inspiring by offering titles that appeal to their various interests.

2. Find your inner-actor

I love reading aloud because it gives me the opportunity to use crazy voices and dramatic pauses.  My children still talk about my “Dobby voice” from the Harry Potter series. When they were finally old enough to see one of the movies, I received my greatest compliment ever. “Dobby didn’t sound like he was supposed to,” my kids said. Make reading fun, and your children will develop an inner-voice to do the same. Young readers turn into lifelong learners.

3. Location, location, location

Most families read aloud in the bed as the child is drifting off to sleep. This is a special time for both parent and child, but consider reading aloud in other locations, too. We loved reading aloud in the living room, on vacation, in the car, and even after dinner at the table. When the weather’s nice, reading outside is a treat. It’s also a great excuse to head to the newly renovated Shelby Farms Park. There were times we were so into a book that we could not stop reading.

4. The classics

There are many wonderful books that have been written in the past 20 years. We often gravitate toward these books, as they are well-promoted. However, don’t overlook the classics. I loved reading Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and it was published in 1883! I found a modern-language version and read it with my family. Afterward, my son wanted to go on his own adventures and take notes on all he discovered in the forest. The whole family loved reading The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and we still have conversations about the meaning behind the story. The entire Narnia series is a great way to teach morals and character development. 

5. Don’t stop reading

Many parents will stop reading aloud once their children are able to read on their own. Please don’t stop — keep reading for as long as possible. Reading aloud helps introduce new vocabulary, allows you to ask questions and discover comprehension, and is a wonderful bonding time with your kids. Enjoying books together provides opportunities for the entire family to discuss stories and make predictions about what will happen next. This investment of time will reap wonderful benefits in the future. Your love of reading is sure to rub off on your kids, and that’s one of the greatest gifts you pass along.

Last modified on Friday, 02 December 2016
Steve Hancock

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