I looked around the room at my family and saw them hanging on every word that came out of my mouth. They looked like they had one foot in the world I was describing, as if I was weaving a tale that had come from my subconscious and not from the pages of the book I was reading.
All I was doing was reading a book, but something about the process was different, more engaging and… well, great. I look back on that night when I was reading The Hobbit to my boys fondly, and while I realize that the moment I described isn’t how the process always plays out when I read aloud to the kids, it’s worth your time as a parent for lots of reasons.
I was reminded of this experience when I stumbled on a post from 5 Minutes For Mom, who recommends some great series that you can read to your children.
It’s been proven that kids greatly benefit from this. It improves their vocabulary and introduces them to new words. It also can increase a child’s attention span and ingrain the habit of reading into their lives where it may not have been before.
I’ve also recommended this in a post about Family Night Ideas. Whether you have a series or a family night planned, or maybe just a one on one with your kid, reading aloud is something that should be part of your reading routine. I first decided to introduce this to my kids when my son was really getting into all things Lord Of The Rings. He had just watched the films and wanted really badly to begin reading the books, but at his age, he wasn’t quite ready for the dense writing of J.R.R. Tolkien.
So I told him he should read The Hobbit. After all, it’s a children’s book and while some of that same dense style comes across, it’s a bit easier to digest. But I realized pretty quickly that even that was biting off a bit more than he could chew, so I instead decided I’d just read it to him.
What I didn’t bargain for was my older son wanting to sit in on the process from time to time, and even the rest of the family listening covertly at times as well. It’s great, and you’ll find you get just as much out of it as your kids. Here are a few practical tips to get you started.
1) Pick a book or book series: This can be a book that’s a bit above your child’s current level of reading, as I explained above, or one that is perfect for them to read. I also really like taking turns reading chapters or a few pages. So I read some, he reads some.
2) Find the right environment: You have to block out distractions to get the most out of this experience, so it’s pretty important to pick the right room and time of day or night.
3) Invite everyone: What I realized when other family members would listen it was that I should just ask them in advance if they wanted to sit in on the reading. You never know what might turn into a spontaneous family night.
4) Debrief and rehash: After the chapter or session, take some time to chat with your kids about their thoughts on what you’ve read. It can be super interesting to get their thoughts and gives you an opportunity to clarify some things that may be been difficult to grasp.
So let this be a reminder of how important it is to read aloud to your kids, or maybe it’s just something you never considered before. Either way, it’s a great idea that I think you and your kids will reap plenty of benefits from.