Reading aloud: Top 5 tips Did you know that you are your child’s first reading teacher? This is pretty powerful stuff! By providing your child with loving literacy interactions you will help develop their love for books, stories and reading. Reading aloud with your child is a wonderful time for them to chat about their thoughts and share ideas about what it is you’re reading. This in turn will help develop their comprehension and communication skills, bonus!
I always give books as birthday presents to my nieces, nephews, and friends children. What I love most about giving a book as a gift is that as soon as the child unwraps the present they immediately turn to their parents and ask ‘Can you read this to me?’ I still remember the time I gave THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES to my niece. She was kind of unimpressed with the idea of a book with no pictures (which I totally got!) but still turned to my brother and asked him to read it. Well, weren’t we all in stitches hearing him read the story aloud and having to make all the silly noises. I think they made him read it 3 times in a row! We bonded over that read aloud and enjoyed a beautiful shared experience.
Some books make reading aloud easier than others, so here are my top 5 tips for reading with children to help you bring some life to any book!
1. When we read aloud we’re practicing how to read FLUENTLY which is in fact a quite difficult skill. The more we do it the easier it becomes so PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT when it comes to fluency. If you or your child is apprehensive about reading aloud take turns reading lines or pages. You are your child’s first reading teacher so modelling how to read fluently is important. Remember that children LOVE reading with an adult so it’s important to practice this skill together. Try changing the PACE at which you read. Try reading FAST AND SLOW. You’ll find your rhythm the more you read aloud.
2. As you read aloud LEAVE OUT THE LAST WORD in a sentence and let your reading partner FILL IN THE BLANK. Younger children love this with rhyming books as they feel they are in fact reading the words by guessing what the rhyming word is. For older readers, they love participating in the read aloud and by saving the last word in the sentence for them to read they will feel like an active participant in the shared story.
3. When reading aloud, try and vary the PITCH AND TONE of your voice. You don’t need to read the whole story REALLY LOUDLY TO KEEP THE CHILD’S ATTENTION. Phew that was loud! Hahahaha in parts WHISPER the words to draw attention to a particular moment or important part of the story. It’s amazing how intently children listen when we whisper. They think what we’re saying is super important and will lean in to make sure they can hear. It also makes the read aloud way more fun when we read some parts more LOUDLY AND SOFTLY than other parts. Play around with it and you’ll learn to find your tone and pitch groove.
4. Try and vary the EXPRESSION in your voice as you’re reading aloud. Hearing someone read in a completely monotone voice is boring and uninspiring. Expression can be accentuated when taking on the voice of one the characters or when describing the setting. PLAY WITH PUNCTUATION and let it help guide you. Have fun EMPHASIZING DIFFERENT WORDS and not necessarily only what the story wants you to emphasize, play around with the text.
5. Most importantly HAVE FUN! Children absolutely love to share a book with an adult. This should be an enjoyable experience for everyone. Don’t worry if you don’t get through the whole book. Children may only be interested in a particular part of the story so take the time to explore that part as it’s about sharing the words, the images and the time together. If you’re relaxed and you’re enjoying yourself, then the child will respond to your positive energy. They’ll get so much more from the shared reading experience, making them feel valued and important.
Reading WITH our children is about relationship building and spending quality time together. It’s a time to show them that reading is an enjoyable experience and not a time to be hard on them about their reading skills. Leave that stuff for the teachers as your primary job as a parent is to engage them in a happy and relaxed story time that they look forward to every day.
What’s your favourite read aloud book at the moment? Let me know in the comments below or head over to my instagram page and let’s chat picture books there!