The key point is: If dads practice first before reading aloud to children, they can do a better job. Because their goal is to convince children to love reading, just like sellers need to know their products well in order to convince customers to buy them, they need to know the books they will read well in order to convince children of the joys of reading. So, if possible, dads should practice first.
To prepare, read the book to yourself silently. As you do, think about:
a. where in the book to use different voices, such as when different characters speak
b. where to speak softer or louder, such as when someone is whispering or shouting
c. where to add sound effects, such as when cows moo or bells ring
d. whether to skip any sections or pages, such as a long description that may be uninteresting
e. which words to emphasize, such as words with important meaning
f. whether to change any difficult words or spend time to explain them
g. where to stop and ask a question or make a connection to children’s lives
h. what sort of rhythm to use, especially when reading poetry
We don’t need to be a professional actor or a native speaker of the language used in the book to read aloud, but just like professional actors benefit from rehearsal, so can we. Plus, maybe our acting skills will increase as we do more reading aloud!
Another type of preparation is finding out about the authors of the books we are going to read aloud. Knowing about authors gives children and us insight into the book and helps children connect to other books by the same author. Libraries and the Internet can be a source of this information.
While preparation is useful, please do not feel that we always have to prepare before reading aloud. But, we should keep in mind all the points – a-h – above and be ready to think fast while we are reading. Besides, if we did not prepare ahead the first time, maybe the children will ask us to read the same book again. So, every time we read, we are also practicing. Indeed, working on our presentation skills is one way for adults to find something interesting when children ask for repeat reading of favorite books.
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.