World Read Aloud Day is Wednesday – and there is reason to celebrate! According to Scholastic’s “Kids & Family Reading Report,” 83% of kids ages 6 to 17 say they love or loved being read aloud to. The report found some important findings that parents should know….
· Parents STOP reading to their kids as they get older and can read independently…BUT 40% of kids (ages 6-11) wish their parents kept reading aloud to them.
· The top reason? Kids say “it is a special time with my parents.”
With all that’s on our plate – homework, tests, extra-curricular activities, online safety, family and work obligations, we need to keep it fun. Kids love being read-aloud to – they see it as both entertainment and bonding time with parents. No matter what, read-alouds with kids should be fun. How do we make read-alouds fun?
Here are some good tips for making reading aloud an ongoing ritual and ways to enhance the experience.
These first tips come from Pam Allyn, founder of LitWorld.org and World Read Aloud Day.
1. Create alternative times of the day to read aloud. Reading right before bed is cozy and wonderful but for many families the timing doesn’t make sense. Bring a read aloud to the breakfast or dinner table, or on Saturday morning before the day gets busy.
2. Use technology to enhance the read aloud feeling. Take advantage of free video chat apps and services to read aloud regularly with friends and family who are far away. Make storytelling central to your long distance check-ins to create joyful memories and build a family literacy culture all at once as you learn about each other as readers.
3. Switch up the text type. We often think of the read aloud as the glorious picture books we love. But our children’s tastes change as they grow. Try poetry, articles and editorials and blog posts as read alouds and see what conversations sprout from them.
4. Combine the read aloud with a think aloud. Unpack what you and your child are reading together. Ask questions that allow your child to freely express his opinions about the text. Ask questions you don’t know the answers to such as: “What are you wondering about?” It’s a great way to stay connected to your older children too and find out what’s on their minds more generally.
5. Build ritual, tradition and ceremonies around the read aloud. Create a “nook” where your children know the mood will be quiet and reflective and perfect for reading together. In this way, siblings can read aloud to each other too. Designate certain days of the months as “new book days” or have a “reading celebration once or twice a year where the entire family reads aloud together (make sure one of those days World Read Aloud Day!).
And here are some more good tips to read aloud to your kids every day (all ages) from Maggie McGuire, VP of Scholastic Parents Channel (Scholastic.com).
1. Pick great books and include kids in the decision making process, too. You can surprise kids with stories you’ve picked – pique their interest by getting excited about a book you found that you think they’ll love because it’s about something they’re interested in – or because you loved it as a kid and want to share it. And, show your kids how to choose “just right” books, make finding the books at the library or choosing a read-aloud at the bookstore an activity you do together. Tap into your kids’ interests when choosing read-aloud books – humor, mystery, non-fiction, graphic novels – it all counts.
2. Mix it up to keep it interesting – different times of day, different places to read, different types of books:
a. Read to your child at bedtime
b. Book and a snack after school at the kitchen table
c. Read a little at breakfast to set the stage for a great day
d. Read on the go when traveling / on road trips
e. Try active books that you can read to your child while she acts it out.
f. For littler ones, read dynamic books that include flaps, different textures, and other novel items for your child to engage with physically.
3. Read with Expression
Have you ever listened to someone with a monotonous voice read aloud? The way we read aloud can increase or decrease your child’s enjoyment of the story. Modeling for your child how to read with expression is important. Read with emotion and use different voices, silly and serious – exaggerated and quiet – kids love when they hear the different voices – it brings the story to life!
4. Share the read aloud (great for older kids)– read aloud to your kids and have them read aloud to you – it can be as little as a few sentences every few pages, or you take a character and your child takes a character and each of you reads those lines/dialogue, split it up by chapters for older, more advanced readers. Make it a participatory activity – but don’t force it if your child isn’t ready. Most importantly, you are modeling a love of reading for them.
5. Give it time. No rushing, speeding through the book, or skipping pages. Read it and enjoy it.
6. Make it a habit. Reading together frequently will turn this activity into a habit, and when a behavior becomes habitual, it in turn becomes more natural and relaxed. When reading is relaxed, it’s more fun.