Reading aloud to your child can be a joy, or it can be torture. It’s all about finding the right book, and beginning a conversation.
For me, one of the best “right books” was Nora’s Chicks by Patricia McLaughlin. I’m sure I read it at least fifty times, and enjoyed it every single reading. It wasn’t just the book itself, though. (Although I did find it delightful and interesting, and adore the illustrations.)
What really caught my heart was the conversations my twin girls and I had about it. The questions they asked. The cute “reading” they did, of one favorite page in particular.
Now, they’re starting first grade and reading aloud on their own. I’m already nostalgic about the old days, two years ago.
I have some bits of wisdom to pass along, drawn from my experience as a parent and as a reading teacher.
5 Tips for Loving Read Aloud Time with Preschoolers
If you don’t always look forward to read-aloud time, here are some tips that may help.
Fill your home with books you love. Find books you adore, and fill your shelves and bins with them. Weed out ones that you don’t enjoy.
Don’t confuse Early Readers with Picture Books. Early Readers, like Dr. Seuss, have short sentences, easy-to-read-words, and often a lot of repetition. They get boring fast for grownups. They’re meant to be read by children. Picture books, on the other hand, are meant to be read aloud to children. You’ll enjoy those more!
Don’t rush. Take time to enjoy the illustrations before you turn each page.
Ask questions. Here’s another reason to choose picture books – they’re better conversation starters. The first time you read a story, you can ask questions such as,
“I wonder what’s going to happen next?”
“Do you know anybody like that?”
The idea is to open conversation, not get a correct answer. So be encouraging. Don’t ask too many questions – just ask one or two with each reading, and give plenty of time for your child to think of a response.
Bring the book to life. Bring up a memorable part of the story later. You can do this in pretend play, with a craft, or just over the dinner table or in the car.
I still do read aloud to my twins, nearly every night. Lately we read a longer children’s nonfiction book from our library, To Space & Back by Sally Ride. At nearly a hundred pages, it took several sittings to finish. I learned almost as much as they did. It was fun learning together, and laughing together (there’s a really funny part about eating in zero gravity).
Most of all, all of our shared reading has brought us closer together.