Tips to Make Family Read Aloud Time the Best Part of the DayLinda Rose
One of the favorite parts of my homeschool day is when the whole family gathers together for reading aloud. I choose an exciting book that keeps us wanting more and guessing at what will happen next. Occasionally, I choose to read a book related to the academics that we are currently studying.
When we first started reading aloud as a family, it was challenging to keep little hands busy, mouths quiet, and minds engaged. If you are just starting to read aloud as a family, my number one tip to you is to start small. Don’t expect your children to sit still for an entire hour at one time. Start with five minutes, and then slowly increase the amount of time that they are listening.
Eventually, you will all be able to relax together while listening for a much longer period of time. At one point, we had a bedtime routine that included about an hour of reading aloud time. Everyone looked forward to this time of the day, and this soothing routine helped us all get to bed in a timely manner.
Having trouble getting started with reading together? Try some of these tips to get you started.
Try a new book
- Choose a book that isn’t too challenging. You don’t want to overwhelm everyone with a book that has college level vocabulary which would quickly discourage everyone from listening.
- Choose books that are exciting and easy to read aloud with vivid descriptions and conversation that makes it easy to visualize the action.
- Choose to read from several different books simultaneously instead of finishing one book before starting another. Usually we read from a Bible story book or devotional, a chapter from a fiction book, and then a chapter from something related to what we are currently studying. It feels like we are learning more that way, and the kids enjoy the variety.
- Sometimes you may choose a book that is a real dud. Don’t be afraid to put it away for when your students are older. Once I chose a book that I was really interested in reading, but it was too challenging for the kids, so we abandoned it for later years.
Listen to an audio book
Audio books are my favorite way to read aloud because they allow me to work quietly on a project while my kids listen along. It’s especially exciting if you choose an audio book that has multiple readers so that each time a new character is talking, a different voice is heard.
Right along with audio books are audio dramas. Many cold winter hours have been spent playing LEGOs while listening to the adventures of some brave soul.
While audio books are not a substitute for reading out loud to your children, they do allow for the kids to be reading independently if you are too busy or are away from home. Many times my kids like to listen to an audio book at night in their beds before falling asleep.
Keep little hands busy
Keep in mind that the younger the child, the harder it is for them to sit still and listen to a book with nothing to keep their hands busy. There are so many quiet activities that could keep their hands engaged while their minds are busy listening to the story:
- coloring pages
- play dough
- silly putty
- felt playsets
The options are really as varied as you would like them to be. Many times the children will be so invested in their quiet activity that you may wonder if they are even listening. Trust me. They are.
Keep minds engaged
Every so often it helps to know whether or not the kids are even paying attention to what you are reading. There is a very simple solution to this. Pause your reading and ask someone to narrate to you about what has been happening. Ask who their favorite character in the story is. Ask what they think about how a certain problem was solved. What would they do differently if they were in the book? Have them draw a picture of a descriptive setting.
It doesn’t hurt to do the reading aloud in a couple of different sessions. Read for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at lunch time. Shorter read aloud periods means they will retain more.
Take your time
There is no reason to rush through a book. Especially if it has rich vocabulary and an exciting plot. Slow down. Enunciate the words. Pause at the punctuation marks. Use different voices for different characters. Use expression when reading aloud. If the characters are excited in the story, use excitement in your voice. If they are sad, show the sadness by your facial expressions and vocal inflection. Slowing down will help your children to really understand the story and really engage with the characters.