Thursday, November 15, 2012

Don't give up on the read aloud!

Studies have shown that reading aloud to children makes them "more likely" to become an lover of books and reading.  We always read to our younger children, but as they get older and become independent readers it can be a challenge to continue this worthwhile exercise.

I've had a hard time lately finding "my groove" with a daily read aloud.  Now, we do read picture books with our youngest.   My older children are such avid readers and they also like to listen to audiobooks--really, really long audiobooks.   We've always read books aloud, but for some reason we haven't been very consistent lately.   There have been quite a few books we've started and never finished.  So, instead of just giving up on the whole idea.  I decided to scale back a bit and start anew.  

Here are some tips on keeping the read aloud in your daily schedule:  

Start with easier books that have shorter chapters.  Last year, I read Dicken's unabridged Christmas Carol in four days.  I was burned out on reading aloud for a while after that.  We've read lots of longer books in the past, but sometimes it can be overwhelming especially when time is tight.  There are great books out there that are shorter and seem more doable.  We are reading aloud this Avi book right now and my kids love it. 

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Find books that appeal to a wide age range.  There are timeless books out there like The Boxcar Children that any age child can enjoy.   Short stories or fairy tales are great places to start as well. 

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Pick funny books.  We were introduced to Sid Fleischman while reading The Whipping Boy.  Daniel and I just finished his autobiography The Abracadabra Kid (which is a great book for a budding writer or magician).  Daniel wanted to explore some of his other books listed in the index.  He found the McBroom books and suggested we read them aloud.  They are short, funny and have great illustrations. 
McBroom Tells the Truth (Adventures of McBroom)

Go slow.  Who cares if it takes you weeks to finish a book?  As long as you are enjoying it, time doesn't matter. 

Don't be afraid to use audiobooks!   My kids are always checking out audiobooks from the library.  There are also great websites online with free audiobooks.  We listened to The Hobbit on youtube a few weeks ago.  

I love Books Should Be Free website with over 3,000 free audio books. 

Take suggestions.   When you are stumped on what to read next, have your kids' make a suggestion.  Sometimes we take turns on who gets to pick the next read aloud.  I have drawn the line on some suggestions, if I felt like it would be a struggle for me to read out loud.  (Redwall is a book that my kids love, but they also listen to a full cast audiobook...I don't read Redwall books out loud.) 

Keep it handy!  Try to keep your read aloud laying out where you can see it.  It helps to have that little reminder to read.  Take it with you when you know you have to wait somewhere.  Five minutes here and there can really add up.  Listen to audiobooks in the car.  

The last piece of advice I have when it comes to read alouds is this:  

Don't give's too important!

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