In my previous blog, I offered numerous reasons about how reading aloud to your kids can help shape their cognitive and emotional development. However, not every parent knows how to make the most out of the experience. I’ve compiled some of the best online tips from different sources and provided their links. Here are some tips via the New York Public Library:
- All reading aloud is good reading. It doesn’t matter if your kids want you to read them a comic book, magazine, fiction or nonfiction children’s book. All reading counts.
- Get comfortable. Find a cozy environment while reading aloud to help create loving connections.
- Don’t worry about age or grade level. Even if a book seems a bit advanced for an early reader, try reading different parts of it each time. Don’t rush into bigger books because they’re labeled as being more age appropriate.
Likewise, just because a book targets young readers, it doesn’t mean an adult can’t enjoy it. Take The Adventures of Mo (Mo). Although it targets students in elementary school, I’ve received wonderful comments about the story from an adult who was learning English, a teenager who said it was adorable, and a senior who suggested that community members like residents at senior living facilities would enjoy reading Mo themselves or to early readers, like their grandkids. If you like the children’s book, just read it!
- Ask and answer questions together. If you come across a word or concept your children don’t know while reading aloud, ask them what they think it means. And if you don’t know, it’s OK to say that! Explore unknowns together: these moments are opportunities to discuss the book and what’s happening in connection to the world around us and capitalize on curiosity.
Keep in mind that Mo includes vocabulary words children typically learn at the elementary school level. It also doubles as a free resource for teachers. More Tips from ISD622 North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School System:
- Make reading fun: Start by letting kids select the book. Children develop special interests and may have a favorite series or want to read the same book that their best friend has read or is now reading. The freedom to choose can be a strong motivator for young readers, regardless of age.
- Set Ground Rules: Make sure your child knows what to expect and how to engage during reading aloud time. Start by discussing what you last read. For example, when reading Mo, consider asking these questions:
- What did Mo (or other characters) learn in the last chapter?
- Have you ever been in that situation? If so, what did you do?
- Or, imagine yourself in that situation. What would you do?
- After finishing the next chapter, ask: what state is Mo visiting? Look for clues in the story, like the names of cities in that state.
- Take Turns: Each of you can take turns reading aloud by starting with a portion of the page. Defer questions until after you finish reading, if possible. This helps children get fully engaged in listening to a story. Mo, for example, is a free online children’s book that deals with emotions or feelings, community, making mistakes, diversity, courage, overcoming challenges, friendship, self-esteem, compassion, helping others, and much more.
- Stop reading at a suspenseful point in the book. Whenever pressed for time or if your child is a reluctant reader, try stopping at the climax or suspenseful point in the book. Your child may be very eager to find out what happens to the characters in the story and excited to read the next chapter or rest of the book the following day.
Here’s one last tip from We Are Teachers, a website that offers reading incentives to both parents and teachers:
- Reward Reading: Children experience emotions just like adults. Reading aloud can make them laugh out loud, activate their imagination, teach them how to cope with difficulties, or how to address problems they may be having at school, with a sibling, or best friend. Encourage them to read partly by rewarding them. How? Make popcorn. Allow them to chew gum for a day. Walk with them around your neighborhood. Treat them to lunch. This will make reading aloud time even more fun and enjoyable!