Remember that ‘Reading aloud is a journey, not a race’. To make this journey longer, more valuable and more enjoyable, we adults should not be the only ones talking just because we are the only ones reading aloud. The key point is: Being active can increase children’s understanding, enjoyment and learning.
Dads should welcome children’s comments and ideas at any time during a read aloud session, not only at the end of a book. Sometimes, these comments seem completely unrelated to the book. This shows that every reader reacts differently to the same book. Children’s reactions provide a wonderful window onto their minds.
When children make comments, dads may want to put the book aside for a bit and journey down this new path where the children have pointed. Then, they can return to the book with phrases such as:
a. Let’s see what happens next
b. On the next page, …
c. Now …
d. Getting back to the story, …
e. OK, let’s continue
Dads can also use gestures, such as putting a finger across their lips, looking down at the book, or point to where in the book they are going to begin to read again.
Dads want to encourage children to ask questions and to welcome their questions when they are asked. Children’s questions can be on something that they do not understand, or questions can be on something the children want to know more about. Sometimes, the questions will have nothing to do with the book. Those are okay too, sometimes. Children’s questions tell us a good deal about what they know and how they view the world.
Of course, dads will not always be able to answer children’s questions. No worries. It is fine to admit that they do not know. This provides us an opportunity to talk about how to find out. For instance, dads and the children can go to the library to look for answers in encyclopedias or in other books, or look at online resources. In this way, children’s questions become great motivators for additional reading and for teaching information search skills.
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.