Teachers in a wide range of subject areas at secondary schools, colleges, and universities are discovering what their colleagues in the teaching of literature have long known about the power of reading aloud to capture their students’ attention and to stimulate their thirst for learning. For instance, Professor Robert Coles has used stories to teach ethics to students at the Harvard Business School. Regardless of the subject area, we can find stories that contain valuable information, food for thought and fuel for discussion.
Reading aloud to older children can be a very different experience from reading to the younger ones. First, the reading material changes. Although there are books written especially for pre-teens and teenagers, dads can also read aloud from material written mainly for adults, such as daily newspapers. Chapter books, such as Kayla & the Magical Tree, can be read as well. Dads can seldom finish these in one session, so they will need to think of good places to stop, places that will generate the urge to read again tomorrow to find out what happens next.
A second change that takes place when reading aloud to older children involves the discussions that accompany the reading. These discussions are at a more mature level, and dads can bring in more of our own experiences and talk to the children more like peers.
Third, instead of reading an entire book, as we do with younger children, with older children, we can just read one section of a book and then choose another book next time we read aloud. For instance, dads can read a favorite section of a book, or they can read the beginning of a book as a way of encouraging children to read the book on their own silently. With non-fiction, dads can read aloud sections that contain particularly startling information or that answer a question that we have been wondering about.
Dad reminder: You can start to read to your kids at ANY age. It’s fun for the kids and dad. It really is a dad duty!
- George Jacobs, Ph.D. and Wan Loh Inn, Ed.D.
Dr. George Jacobs, Ph.D. and Dr. Wan Loh Inn, Ed.D. are the authors of many books (including “The Read Aloud Guide”, textbooks for teachers and students, curriculum guides, and children’s storybooks).
Find out more about reading aloud to your kids.