Reading aloud helps children develop positive associations with reading and books. And this is so important to becoming lifelong learners.
When I was teaching remedial reading to 10th and 11th graders in Atlanta years ago (my first teaching job pre-kids), I asked them to tell me their memories of trying to learn to read. Every single one of them had a heartbreaking story of that experience: they were well aware that they were in the “stupid” group, soon they learned to fake it, and then it became too late to admit that they needed help. Clearly emotionally damaging. And low and behold, ten years later, they still struggled with reading. I always wondered how their lives might have been different if instead they had been able to curl up on the couch with someone they loved and a good book in those formative years.
When we read aloud, we share a part of ourselves with our children – we (and they) experience a heart connection. We give them our undivided attention. We are saying that we care enough about them to bring them this story. And we also share an emotional connection with the characters in the story. We invite others into our home in a safe way. We create a safe and loving space.
It can be hard to believe that the single act of reading aloud to your children can make such a profound difference in their lives, but it does. All you have to do is find books that you love, and make a pact with yourself that on more days than not, you will read aloud.
Then when your children become teenagers, one day they will walk into your room and say, “Hey Mom, I think you should read this book!” Pure joy.
Here are some great July read-alouds for you to check out.
At the end of a street, in a little village, is Peter’s house. It’s an old, falling down house. But Peter is always helping everyone else: mending things, building toy boats, and telling stories. Along comes an official who says Peter’s old house must be torn down. This is a wonderful, charming story in the best tradition of Elsa Beskow, as all the children in the village rally round to help Peter when he needs them most. Recommended for ages 4+.
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
This touching story is told through letters written home by young Lydia Grace Finch who brings a suitcase full of seeds to the big gray city, where she goes to stay with her Uncle Jim, a grumpy baker. Over the summer months, Lydia brightens things up bit by bit with the flowers she grows. She secretly plans an ambitious rooftop garden which she hopes will make even Uncle Jim smile. Set in the depression, this is a sweet story for all ages (official recommendation is for ages 4-7).
Lina, one of six schoolchildren in a little Dutch fishing village, asks why the storks no longer come to the village to nest. They all begin wondering, and sometimes when you begin to wonder, you begin to make things happen! So the children set out to bring back the storks. The force of their vision puts the whole village to work until at last the dream begins to come true. This book won the Newbery Medal in 1955 and is recommended for grades 3-6; I’d say it’s good for all ages.
And one last recommendation – not really a read-aloud…But if you’re travelling at all this summer…
365 Travel Games & Activities by Stan and Shea Zukowski