The Children's Book Compass

Tips on Reading Aloud at Home

Posted on: January 26, 2010

Benefits of Reading Aloud in the Home

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”  (Becoming a Nation of Readers, 1985, p. 23).

When you read aloud regularly to your child, he or she discovers the joy and pleasure of reading.  Here are some additional benefits.

1.  Reading Aloud creates a strong emotional bond between the child and the adult reader.  As you laugh or cry over powerful stories, or learn about something new, you are building strong connections together.

2.  Reading Aloud prepares the child to be a successful independent reader by:

  • building vocabulary,
  • furthering the child’s sense of story,
  • producing children who are comfortable with speaking and listening,
  • increasing attention span and comprehension capabilities,
  • broadening the child’s experiences,
  • exposing the child to conventions of language,
  • providing a model of fluency in reading,
  • demonstrating print and book handling concepts such as left-to-right and top-to-bottom directionality, how pages turn and how print and illustrations combine to tell a story.

3.  Reading Aloud stimulates the imagination.

4.  Reading Aloud promotes critical thinking.

5.  Reading Aloud teaches values.

6.  Reading Aloud demonstrates that reading is something worth working at, thereby providing the motivation necessary to become an independent reader.

7.  Reading Aloud builds confidence and self-esteem as the child becomes an independent reader.

8.  Reading Aloud improves standardized test scores.

9.  Reading Aloud encourages older readers to become better readers.

10.  Reading Aloud provides exposure to a wide range of reading materials.

How to Read Aloud Effectively

Here are some tips on making the read aloud experience effective for both parent and child.

1.  The first priority is to make the read aloud time a pleasurable and enjoyable event.

2.  Select a regular time, just before bed, Saturday morning, Sunday afternoon, or whatever fits your schedule.

3.  Take turns with your child selecting the books to read aloud.

4.  Introduce the book with a short explanation if needed.

5.  Remember to read the title and names of the author and illustrator.

6.  Read with expression, experiment with appropriate voices for the characters.  Vary your pace and volume as needed.

7.  Involve the child in the reading by asking questions, inviting her to find details in the illustrations and making predictions about what might happen next.

8.  Engage the child in discussing the book when it is finished.  Here are some examples of questions that will encourage appreciation of the book and not test the child on what has been read.

  • What did you like about that book?  What did you not like?  Why?
  • What will you remember about the story?
  • Did you notice anything that you are wondering about?  If so, what?
  • Was there anything in the book that puzzled you?

9.  Give the child time to study illustrations, to notice details and make connections.

10.  Respond to the child’s body language.  Be flexible if the child is not interested in the book, find another.

Selecting Books to Read Aloud

1.  Select books that are appropriate for the age of your child.

2.  Know your child and select books that match her interests and needs.

3.  Choose books you will also enjoy.

4.  Read all kinds of books: adventures, poetry, song books, mysteries, fantasies, stories from real life and more.

5.  Remember there are great sources of pieces to read aloud in the newspaper and magazines.

6.  Visit the public library and get acquainted with the resources in the children’s section.  Choose from the free brochures that feature recommended books for your child’s age group and interests.

7.  Borrow The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Children Will Change their Lives Forever by Mem Fox for ideas for books to read and suggestions to enhance your read aloud time.

8.  Borrow audiobooks for both adult and child to enjoy.

Books Too Good to Miss

Each year, I read thousands of children’s books.  Those that I find are good choices to share with children I list on a booklist for each year.  Visit my web site to access booklists for the last ten years or my blog to see reviews of wonderful books.

Picture Books

Anno                                       ANNO’S COUNTING BOOK

Fox, Mem                                TOUGH BORIS

Gravett, Emily                      MONKEY AND ME

Hughes, Shirley                     ALFIE’S  1 2 3

Rosenthal & Lichtenheld    DUCK! RABBIT!

Rylant, Cynthia                       SNOW

Sakai, Komako                        THE SNOW DAY

Somar, D. & Davis, J.             LADYBUG GIRL AND BUMBLEBEE BOY

Swanson, Susan                      THE HOUSE IN THE NIGHT

Thomas, Jan                            RHYMING DUST BUNNIES

Wild, Margaret                        PUFFLING

Willems, Mo                            THE ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE SERIES

Poetry and Rhymes

O’Neill, Mary                        HAILSTONES AND HALIBUT BONES

Opie, Iona, ed.                     MY VERY FIRST MOTHER GOOSE  Illus. R. Wells

Sidman, Joyce                    RED SINGS FROM TREETOPS: A YEAR IN COLORS

Folk Tales

Aylesworth, Jim                    THE MITTEN

Galdone, Paul                         THE THREE PIGS

Pinkney, Jerry                         THE LION AND THE MOUSE

Wiesner, David                       THE THREE PIGS

Books of Information

Bishop, Nic                             BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS

Dennis, M. B.                          NUBS THE TRUE STORY OF …

Cassino, M. & Nelson. J.        THE STORY OF SNOW

Martin, Jacqueline                   SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY

McMillan, Bruce                     NIGHTS OF THE PUFFLINGS

4 Responses to "Tips on Reading Aloud at Home"

WOW … very impressive. I like the layout. And the typeface. Very nice, indeed 🙂

I’ve been listening to Marilyn Carpenter’s logic and enthusiasm for books and learning for more than 25 years, always coming away with something new — even about something as old and true as reading aloud. Her vantage point in teaching is quite simple: she’s been there: home, classroom, college professor. Her devotion to every aspect of reading — from fiction to nonfiction, from gifted readers to struggling ones — makes her one great resource in education. Lucky us!

This is such a wonderful resource. I’m going to use this next year at open house! Thanks Marilyn.

Been looking for some trendy items of clothes for our daughter, seems
like fashion for the the fives and under is seriously lacking design and style!

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Pointing the Direction to New Books for Children and Teens

Marilyn Carpenter, PhD.

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