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Reading Aloud Together
By Kate Greene

The Hows and Whys of Reading Aloud

Learning to read can be fun. Here are some ideas for reading with children at different levels that will accommodate and develop everyone’s ability.

Reading with Very Young Children

  • It’s never too early to read to your children. It will help prepare them for reading on their own while instilling a love of the written word. And including children in literacy-related activities as early as possible will help them develop the necessary skills for good communication.

  • Select books with simple, bold, and colorful shapes. These books usually have one or two lines of print on a page and each page has repeated phrases. Hearing words over and over helps children become familiar with them.

  • Choose nursery tales, songs, and stories about family life that have a simple sentence structure.

  • Let the child pretend to read the story. Allow her to hold the book and turn the pages as the adult points to the pictures.

  • Make the story come alive by using different voices and facial expressions. When a child hears different sounds, not only does the story become more fun, but this also helps him develop critical listening skills.

  • Children never get bored of hearing their favorite books over and over again. They need to hear the repetition of language to develop literacy skills.

Tips for the Beginner Reader

  • Parents are their children’s first teachers. We have an important role to play in helping our children become better readers. By reading to children several times a day, you can actually make a positive impact on their future learning.

  • Provide a comfortable, secure-feeling reading space for the child with easy access to books. A place with good lighting, away from distractions, and with a variety of books is ideal.

  • Point to the words on the page as you read them. This will teach the child that reading goes from left to right, and will also help stimulate word recognition.

  • Engage in a dialogue with the child as you read, encouraging them to read a page or paragraph to you from time to time. (But if they are unable, simply take up the reading yourself.)

  • Make comparisons as the child reads. Comparing and contrasting helps the child recognize relationships between events and objects, and helps them notice similarities and differences.

  • After reading a story together, talk about the events in the story, if the child is interested in doing so. This will stimulate higher-order thinking as the child tries to explain what happened in their own words.

Tips for Independent Readers

  • Research shows that there is a predictable reading slump that happens at or around the grade four level. We often think by this age that kids can read well enough on their own, but this is when books start to get longer and words begin to get harder.

  • Do not stop reading aloud with children even when they can read independently – just take turns sharing the role of narrator.

  • Encourage children to develop an interest in a variety of genres such as adventure, mystery, fantasy, and poetry.

  • Keep in mind the more people your child sees and hears reading – parents, siblings, relatives, friends – the more likely your child will be turned on to reading.

Tips for Lifelong Readers

Engaging in literacy and learning is important at any stage in life. Reading ability is like a muscle. If you don’t exercise it regularly, you can actually lose the ability. Here are some tips to keep you and your children motivated to continue reading and learning for life:

  • Encourage older children to keep a journal to help them hone their writing skills.

  • Encourage family members to read and discuss items from the daily newspaper or a shared news website to keep up-to-date on what is happening around the world.

  • Get in the habit of giving books or magazine subscriptions as birthday gifts or on other special occasions.

  • Lead by example – exercise your mind by doing crossword puzzles, word jumbles and word searches. Play board games, like Scrabble, Boggle, or Bananagrams as a family as a way to develop your children's vocabulary skills...and to have fun.

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