By Crystal Paine of MoneySavingMom.com
Ever since my children were little, we’ve loved spending time together almost daily reading aloud. We started with picture books and gradually moved into longer chapter books. We’ve learned much from the many books we’ve read together, and we feel like we’ve visited a variety of different cultures, time periods, and geographical locations – all from the books we’ve read together in our living room!
When people see our yearly read-aloud book list, they often ask how I read so much to my children and get them to sit quietly and listen for longer periods when they are still young. Here are some suggestions that have worked well for us:
1. Read at the Level of Your Oldest Child
Children can understand a lot more than we give them credit for. While I’m a big fan of reading fun picture books, I think it’s also good to read books that are a little bit above a child’s level to help them think, learn to analyze, and expand their vocabulary.
When I’m reading to my children, I always read books that are geared for my oldest child. And you know what I’ve found? My younger two understand much of what I read and get into the story, too.
2. Gradually Increase Your Reading Time
If you’ve never done much read-aloud time before, I’d recommend starting with just five or ten minutes and working up from there. For those who have young children, starting them on chapter books by reading while they are eating breakfast or lunch is a great way to introduce them to good read-alouds while their hands are already occupied and their bodies are still.
With some practice, you’ll probably find that your children are engaged for longer stretches and they may even be begging for more after you’ve already read two or three chapters.
3. Don’t Expect Your Children to All Sit Quietly
While I know some people expect that read-aloud time means everyone sits with their hands in their lap while Mom reads, that’s not at all what happens at our house. In fact, I’ve found that often my children listen better when their hands are busy.
So I encourage my children to play with Legos, or draw, or color, or do some other quiet activity while I’m reading. They seem to enjoy it a lot more – and the time flies!
4. Make Sure Your Oldest Children Are Engaged
Foster a love of good books in your children by making sure that they are staying engaged when you are reading. Not all school subjects are always going to be fascinating and captivating, but I try to pick chapter books that my children are going to really get into.
If things seem a little dry in portions of a book, I’ll sometimes use funny accents or totally dramatize things just to make it fun and exciting. If they’re intently listening and then beg for more when it’s time to stop, I know that I’m accomplishing my goal of making read-aloud time something they love.
5. Don’t Forget the Picture Books!
If your read-aloud time is geared toward your older children, make sure that you also include a regular diet of picture books for the younger ones, too. We often start out our read-aloud time with one or two picture books that everyone crowds around to listen to and then we pick up our chapter book once I’ve finished reading the picture books.
In this way, we’re making sure that read aloud time offers a little bit of something for everyone – and it helps provide some variety, too.
What advice do you have for reading chapter books aloud to children? What are some of your favorite chapter books to read aloud?
Crystal Paine is a wife, homeschool mom of three, author, and speaker. Check out her blog, MoneySavingMom.com, for practical money-saving tips and inspiration to live your life on purpose.
Reading Rainbow thanks Crystal Paine and MoneySavingMom.com for contributing this week’s guest blog post, and for helping us inspire kids to discover a love of reading, and believe that they can “go anywhere, be anything.”