Read Aloud to Your Children
by Diane Stortz
We often say children spell love T-I-M-E.
But I think they also spell it R-E-A-D.
Children who are regularly read to learn to enjoy reading. Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, said, “Every time you read to a child, you’re sending a ‘pleasure’ message to the child’s brain.”
My theory is that kids who learn to enjoy books and reading are more apt to view the Bible as a readable book as they grow up. Think about the impact on faith development of that!
- It’s never too early. Did you know babies in utero learn to recognize the voices they hear repeatedly in the womb? After birth, reading to babies helps them develop language. Researchers have documented word-and-picture association in children as young as six months.
- It’s never too late. Choose books that interest your elementary or middle-grade kids, and they’ll be glad to have this special time with you. Long after children can read themselves, they enjoy read-aloud times with you.
- Try varying your voice or adding sound effects as you read. No need to be shy!
- If you’re reading a picture book, take time to talk about the illustrations. Invite your child to tell you what’s happening in a picture, how a character in an illustration is feeling or what might happen next.
- Make books with chapters a family project. Read one chapter a day—after school, after dinner or at bedtime.
- Let children interrupt the story to ask questions.
- Encourage younger children to hold the book and turn the pages as you read. If toddlers and preschoolers are too much on the go to sit for long, let them move about the room or play quietly as you read.
- Try to relate a story to your child’s real-world experiences, for example, “Do you remember when our family took a trip?” or “That donkey looks like the one you rode at the petting zoo.”
- If a child enjoys reading aloud, take turns. Let him or her read to you.
- Don’t worry if your child wants the same book read over and over. Children love familiar repetition, and good books are made to be read more than once.