The key point is: Find a comfortable place with the least possible distractions. The #1 way to do this is to turn off the TV! If you can’t do that, go to another room, and close the door. Don’t try to compete with the TV. It’s usually a losing battle. If there is other adults or other children want to watch TV and there is no place to escape to, explain to the others that reading aloud is more important that TV, and encourage them to read too. Children may protest when the TV is turned off or we move to another room, but once the read aloud session begins, they often forget completely about the TV.
Choose a regular place for reading aloud, a place away from most distractions. Even better is to read aloud in this special place at a regular time. The place should be comfortable for you and for the children. We and the children can also go to this place when we want to read silently either alone (with each person having their own book) or together.
Questions to ask about this special place include:
- Is there room for everyone to sit comfortably? Just a mat, pillow, or a carpet can be enough.
- Is there sufficient light?
- Is the temperature sufficiently cool or warm?
- Is it quiet?
Home isn’t the only place for reading aloud. Bring along books to read on a trip, such as a bus ride, when you are stuck in a long queue or while waiting for someone to arrive at the airport, or during a break while visiting a park. Indeed, almost any place can be a good place for reading aloud. Reading aloud brightens up any experience and makes slow times go by quickly.
Also, as mentioned in the chapter on ‘The What of Reading Aloud’, it is often useful to read for at least a little while at the library or bookstore before borrowing or buying a book. This helps the children and us decide if we have chosen the right book, or whether we should put it back and try another one. As the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Instead, try books out first.
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.