Much of my reading time over the last decade and a half has been spent reading aloud to my children. Those bedtime rituals of supper, bath, stories and sleep have been a staple of my life and some of the best, most special times I can remember. — Louise Brown
Are you reading aloud to your children? Reading aloud has many benefits for you and your family. It is time well-spent. It can become a ritual for all of you. It is simply a matter of priority.
It is not threatening to any one in your family. It is a time to give and get attention. One father started reading aloud to himself. Pretty soon his oldest soon heard him and joined him to see what he was reading. A few minutes later, his two youngest daughters joined him and his wife also. Reading a chapter each night became their family ritual.
I had a similar experience as I read one chapter each night to our children. My husband wanted to know what happened while he attended school at night and missed the latest chapter.
You do not need to be the only one doing the reading. You can invite your older children to read also. However, do not force them to participate. If you and your spouse enjoy books and sharing them with your children, your children will learn the value of reading from you.
Children do not need to give you their full attention. They can be building with Legos, doodling on scrap paper, or sketching in their notebooks. Maybe they want to grab a pillow and lay on the floor to be quiet and listen. However, all phones need to be turned off.
Talk about the story, the problems the characters encounter, or the fear the characters in the book have. Maybe your children or spouse have questions about words or ideas in the reading which you can answer or look up on your computer or iPhone. Maybe your children want their friends to come over to listen also. Setting a certain time to read helps your children make that time special for all of you.
Reading aloud and talking about what we’re reading sharpens children’s brains. It helps develop their ability to concentrate at length, to solve problems logically, and to express themselves more easily and clearly. — Mem Fox
By reading aloud to your family, you provide a positive and exciting role model as you read with expression different from what they hear on TV or videos. You give them new information, a rich vocabulary, and help them to hear good grammar. You help your children learn about other people and places and how to handle their emotions through characters in the stories.
Such classics as “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi, “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London, “Gentle Ben” by Walt Morey, and “Ivan” by Katherine Applegate are sure to have your children coming back to your reading time and wanting more.
Southern Arizona resident Bette Mroz is a former teacher, reading specialist and principal. As a mother and grandmother, she continues to help her family learn. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org