As children’s reading ability improves, they may want to read aloud with us, starting off with just saying a word or two that they recognize. Even children who cannot read at all can sometimes read along, either because you have read them the book so many times that they have memorized many of the sentences or because in a predictable book, certain phrases or sentences are repeated many times.
With picture books, another way to involve children in reading along is to use the pictures. For example, the sentence “Look at those puppets” appears accompanied by pictures of hand puppets in the book My Speech & Drama Class. Instead of reading the entire sentence, we can read only, “Look at those _______” and encourage children to use the drawings to fill in “puppets”. Or, children can just name what they see in the pictures.
Later, children can use picture books to create their own stories. If those stories are different from what is in the book – a little or a lot different – that is okay. Also, when we are not reading to them, children may take books and ‘read’ them on their own, without us around. This reading play is an early stage in developing a silent reading habit. As children’s reading ability improves, they can read the words they know and leave the other words to us.
When George’s niece Crystal learned how to read, she still wanted him to read to her, and refused his invitations to take turns reading aloud, even when they were reading a book that was within her ability range. Instead, she read along silently as George read aloud, quickly pointing out any errors he made. However, Crystal’s Elementary 1 teacher reported seeing Crystal reading aloud to her classmates!
Older children may enjoy round-robin reading aloud. For example, when one of George’s nephews, Hank, was 9-years-old, they would take turns reading from books that Hank choose. The read aloud fiesta became multi-generational when Hank’s grandmother joined in.
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.