Reading to Your Kids

Reading to your kids is so very important. Even with high stakes tests hanging over my shoulders, as a classroom teacher I invest the time to read aloud to my students every single day because I believe that it is the best way to promote a love for books*. But reading aloud offers so much more!

It’s a perfect time to:

  • discuss unfamiliar words ~vocabulary
  • share/compare what you’re imagining in your minds ~comprehension
  • demonstrate reading with a pace that matches what the author’s saying (sometimes we speed up, sometimes we slow down) ~fluency/prosody
  • demonstrate interpretations of the voices of characters (anger, southern twang, squeaky, etc.) ~fluency/prosody
  • compare the events of this story to other stories you know or to your own lives ~comprehension
  • introduce a variety of genres to expand your children’s experiences with books and how they work ~comprehension
  • promote the character traits you’d like to see in yourself and others ~comprehension

In the classroom, I continually say things like, “Whoa. You are acting determined just like little Willy in Stone Fox, “ or “You can write in your journal the way Sam Beaver wrote in his in The Trumpet of the Swan.”

Remember, your kids are capable of comprehending books far beyond their reading levels. When you’re reading to them, they are able to do the deep work of comprehension without having to slow down to decode unfamiliar words.

One more thing . . . Once I read a book to students, they are often excited to read it themselves. That’s WONDERFUL! They know what’s going happen, so they’re better equipped to tackle what might otherwise be challenging words for them. If it’s a quality book, reading it twice will be a great investment

So, have I convinced you?

Now you just need a great book to read to your kids . . . and I have some suggestions!

Try these:

  • Stone Fox, John Reynolds Gardiner (determined boy & his dog save the day)
  • The Story of Thomas Alva Edison Inventor: The Wizard of Menlo Park, Margaret Davidson (easy to read book to introduce biographies that includes an address your kids can write to and receive free information about him)
  • All About Sam, Lois Lowry (laugh out loud funny with lots of good discussion points)
  • Rowan of Rin, Emily Rodda (a weakling proves to be heroic, great discussion points, high interest and some poetry/riddles)
  • The Trumpet of the Swan, E. B. White (delightful, imaginative, and fact-filled)
  • The Jacket, Andrew Clements (addresses racism in a way that promotes reflection)
  • Love That Dog, Sharon Creech (poetry, but SO good, read it like a novel but check the back to read the original poems referenced within the text as they’re mentioned. I read the book over about five days and I reviewed each of the original poems we’d read at the beginning of each read aloud time, so that the kids could chant the poems with me. (Whose woods these are I think I know…) You’re going to LOVE it!
  • Shredderman Secret Identity, Wendelin Van Draanen (revenge of a nerd over a bully, determination)
  • The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate (Get some yogurt covered raisins!)

(listed in progressing complexity)

*Note that I did not say reading aloud promotes reading. It absolutely promotes a love for books, but kids who aren’t good at reading and therefore dislike reading, still enjoy listening to good reading. I believe that teaching phonics promotes reading, but I’ll share more about THAT soon.