With all this extra time at home with our families, how are we filling the endless hours? When not telling our kids to “Go Play” and sending them outdoors, we are picking up our latest family read aloud. Reading out loud to children is so beneficial.
Sarah Mackenzie says in her book The Read-Aloud Family, “Reading aloud with our kids is indeed the best use of our time and energy as parents. It’s more important than just about anything else we can do.” Sarah tells us in her book that reading aloud allows us to be fully present with our children, it inspires heroic virtue, it prepares children for academic success, and it nurtures empathy and compassion.
Reading aloud is good for our children, but it’s also good for parents. It builds the bond between parent and child. The family unit is strengthened. And everyone tends to have fun.
Reading aloud as a family might be something new. Your children might be older and independent readers. Perhaps you have children in a wide range of ages. Our busy lives may have been keeping us from finding the time to read aloud.
But now we are all itching for something to fill the hours of our days. We are stuck at home with scenery that is never changing. Picking up a great chapter book and reading aloud will suck us into a new world together. For a couple of hours of the day, your family can go to far-off places and meet new people. Something none of us can do otherwise right now.
To start your family read-aloud here are some quick tips:
- Get cozy. Find a room with room for everyone. Encourage children to bring what they need and use the restroom first to minimize distractions and pauses.
- Food always helps. A bowl of popcorn will always bring my children into a room. If your kids find it difficult to sit still at first, adding snacks into read-aloud time helps.
- Lower your expectations. This is always a general rule of mine. I try not to require my youngest ones to sit completely still. They often interrupt me, so I just start with one chapter at a time. From there, I gauge the interest of our children. Soon your read-aloud time will grow as each child becomes immersed in the book.
- Put off bedtime. It’s easy to get your kids to still and listen if you are willing to let them extend bedtime a bit. If they feel they are getting to stay up a bit later, they tend to listen so much better.
Our family has been reading chapter books aloud for many years. It is part of the rhythm of our home life. The books we read strengthen our bond and provide topics for rich conversations. We often tease each other about the Borrowers taking something that is missing or how Amos the mouse wrote the paper for my daughter because it was written so well. Reading aloud has added so much joy to our family.
Five Chapter Books to Read Aloud to Your Family:
Here are some of our favorite books…
- Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White.
Somehow I escaped childhood never reading this delightful book by one of my favorite offers. Our family could not get enough of this book and the pages practically turned themselves. Any book that turns animals into human-like characters is a hit in our home.
- James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.
This book introduced my daughter to Roald Dahl and now she cannot read his books fast enough. The best part of reading this aloud to my children was sinking back into time to my own childhood and love for this book.
- The Green Ember by S.D. Smith.
If your younger readers love adventure this is a great book. My kids got to attend a meet the author event and that brought this book to life even more for us. Since you can’t get out to meet authors right now, listen to this interview with him and Sarah McKenzie with your kids.
- The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary.
I didn’t think of myself a Beverly Cleary fan until I read this book with my children. Reading this book, you get to practice making all sorts of sound effects as Ralph takes his motorcycle around the hotel.
- Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink.
Our family loves historical fiction. Incorporating a read-aloud into any history unit can add depth and context and richness to a child’s learning. This book is a favorite of my oldest daughter’s. She has re-read it many times on her own. Caddie’s spirit and sense of adventure keep her coming back again and again.
These are just a few to help you get started reading aloud with your children. Pull from your own childhood favorites. In the book The Read-Aloud Family there is an index of books by age.
Reading Aloud to Teenagers
Even teenagers can get involved in read-aloud time. Try reading books like the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, or The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, or The Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength) by C.S. Lewis
Reading aloud with children of all ages will bring joy and richness to your family time!