Last updated on March 17th, 2018 at 10:30 pm
Studies keep showing us that reading aloud with our kids has numerous benefits. We know that it promotes language development and listening skills. It introduces new vocabulary, and teaches them expressive reading. They learn how to empathize, and they exercise imagination–just to name a few.
My favorite reason for reading aloud with my kids, though? It’s making memories together around a book. I love the opportunity to set aside all the things in life that tend to pull me away from my children. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it. And now it’s the best part of our day.
If any of these reasons to read aloud to your kids speaks to you, here are a handful of tips to help you on your way:
1. Make it routine.
Like any worthy habit, reading aloud takes time to master. Developing a routine for reading aloud to your children is essential for sticking with it. Without a routine, it’ll be easy to go several days without reading together and not even realize it! Once you do commit to a routine, there are sure to be days that don’t go exactly as planned, and that’s okay. What matters is that, for the most part, you’re reading aloud together on a regular basis.
2. Let them interrupt.
It can be frustrating when the kids interrupt. But if they’re asking questions or making observations about the book, it’s not a bad thing! They’re listening, and they’re learning, and that makes the interruptions totally worth it. There is a balance here, though. Constant interruptions can be frustrating to everyone else trying to listen and can hinder the whole experience. If excessive interruptions become a problem, encourage your kids to wait until the end of your reading time when you can all discuss the book together.
2. Get their hands busy.
Even as an adult, I tend to have an easier time really listening to a book being read when I am doing a simple task like folding laundry or washing dishes. Your kids are just the same. Making them fold laundry every time you read may be tempting, but probably isn’t ideal if you want them to actually enjoy reading time! Gather some special activities in a bin to pull out only during read aloud time. These activities will vary based on the ages of your kids and their interests, but you can’t go wrong with coloring books, sketch pads, building blocks, or something crafty like crocheting or needlework.
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3. Give them grace.
Sometimes you will need to give yourself and your kids some grace when it comes to reading aloud. Forcing the youngest child to sit as long as the oldest child just isn’t practical. Let the littlest wander off if he needs to. On a rough day, when reading to grouchy, tired, or wound-up kids just isn’t working, let it go. Read aloud time is supposed to be enjoyable, so before it turns into yelling and arguing, put the book down and know that it’ll be there tomorrow.
4. Don’t give up.
Reading aloud doesn’t always look like the pictures on Instagram. In fact, it will rarely look like all the kids cuddled around you on the couch, listening intently to every word you read. In the beginning, you’ll likely find yourself wanting to give up because the kids won’t sit still, or they just aren’t listening. You’ll be hard pressed to find a reading family that didn’t start out this way. But every day that you choose to read aloud anyway, in spite of it not being picture perfect, is another day you’ve spent building your children’s lives through reading. Eventually, with consistency, the time you spend reading aloud with your family will become some of the sweetest memories that you and your children will cherish.
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