Read these tips for choosing great read alouds.
Love reading aloud to the children in your life?
"We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy.
To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting,
and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves.
Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked,
when the distractions of the world are put aside.” ― Neil Gaiman
Be purposeful in choosing your read aloud.
- Consider what mood you'd like to create with a read aloud. Do you want something that is laugh-out-loud funny? Or do you hope to engender deeper conversations? Do you want to try a nonfiction read aloud? Or share a favorite from your childhood? Mix it up.
- Match the book to your child's emotional level. Children can understand stories two to three years ahead of what they can read; however, only you know whether your child is ready for certain story themes. At the beginning of second grade, my son was not ready to hear a story in which the mother died. He was ready for such stories by the end of second grade.
- Choose books your child wouldn't choose on their own, either simply because the reading level is above your child's reading level OR because your child is currently "in" to a series or to a certain type of book. Read alouds allow you to help your child discover wonderful stories they might never have opened on their own.
Choose good books.
- Don't ever read aloud a book you don't enjoy. Your dislike will show through your reading, defeating the purpose of providing a reading "commercial." I didn't want to read my son mass-marketed Star Wars books, so I told him that he could read those books when he had the reading skills to do so.
- Preview the book. If you do start a book and realize you've made a poor choice, admit your mistake, dump it, and choose something else. Note: Some books start slowly, so do give it a good 50 pages.
- Ask your librarian for recommendations. We can help you find something wonderful.
Consider the mechanics of individual books.
- Avoid books with long passages of dialogue. Dialogue is easy to read silently, but very challenging to listen to without the reader inserting, "Jack said, Jane said, mother said," or using distinctive voices for each character.
- Cut out long descriptive passages, especially for beginning readers.
I hope the above steers you toward your next (or first!) read aloud for older children. In the next couple weeks, we will look at timeless read alouds, great read aloud published in 2016, and award-winning children's books. Happy reading!
Suzanne, Children's Librarian