The key point is: Dads should not just turn to Page 1 and jump in. They should set the mood first.
Many simple things can be done to set the mood for a book. Just taking a minute to talk about the topic of the book, may increase children’s interest in the book and also build their knowledge of
the book’s context.
For instance, if the story is about mangoes, before reading, they might eat a mango with the children. Before reading a story about kites, dads can talk to the children about their experiences flying kites or seeing them flown. If the book is about an animal the children might not know, such as an ox, it might be useful to show the children pictures of oxen on the cover of the book or on an inside page, and tell them a bit about oxen.
Dads can start by reading and maybe discussing the book’s title. Titles may give children a useful preview of what is in store for them as they listen to the book. Also, if children know the book’s title, it is easier for them to talk about the book and to ask for it again.
The cover may or may not give clues about what lies ahead. Dads might want to ask children to look at the cover and guess what the book is going to be about. This is a good way to promote prediction
skills. Plus, children learn about the importance of covers. This can be useful if children design their own book covers as a follow-up to reading aloud or to create their own read aloud materials. Children can design alternative covers for a book they enjoyed or a cover for their own books.
Sometimes dads will want to highlight the authors of books. If they have found some interesting information on a book’s author, they can share that. By showing authors (and illustrators) as people, dads can give children the idea that books don’t grow on trees; they are written by people, and maybe the children can be writers too. Many children’s authors have their own websites, or their publisher’s website may contain interesting information about the authors.
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.