Read Aloud Tips for Parents

Reading Aloud with Your Child: A Parent’s Guide by Russ Walsh

The beginning of a school year is a good time to take an inventory of at-home practices that parents can institute to support their children’s learning. One of the most important things that all parents should do is read aloud to their children regularly. Some teachers ask parents to make read aloud a regular part of the homework routine, but whether required by the teacher or not, the research has made it clear that read aloud is a critical home-based activity.

Here are a few tips for making read aloud successful at home.

General Information

§  Read-aloud to your child at least once a day.

§  Set aside regular reading times.

§  Share in the choice of books.  Allow your child to choose sometimes, while you choose a favorite at other times.

§  Read with enthusiasm.  Enjoy yourself.

§  Occasionally choose books that are “over the head” of your child.  Listening comprehension is much more developed in young learners than reading comprehension.  More difficult books create an intellectual challenge.

§  Fathers must make an extra effort to do some of the read-alouds. Children need to see both parents as people who value reading.

§  Keep reading to your child even after the child has become a fluent reader.

Talking About Stories

Before Reading –

1.     Look at the title, cover pictures, title page.

2.     Encourage your child to make predictions.  What might the story be about? What might happen in the story?

During Reading –

1.     Stop occasionally to check predictions.  Is this what you thought would happen?  Do we need to change our predictions? What new predictions can we make?

2.     Don’t forget to talk about the pictures.  In picture books, illustrations play a central role in telling the story.  Talk about the illustrator’s style, the detail, the use of color.

3.     Discuss meanings and connotations of unfamiliar words.

After Reading –

1.     Ask questions that invite your child to talk.  Avoid yes/no and one word answer questions.

2.     Ask for feeling responses. How did the story make you feel?  What did the story make you think about? What was your favorite part of the story?

3.     Talk about the characters in the story.  Talk about the major events.  Compare characters to people you know.  Compare events to things that have happened in your life.

4.     Compare the story to other books you have read or movies or TV shows you have seen together.

Finally, listen to your child and respond to questions in a caring and genuine way. Enjoy read-aloud time.  It can be among the most rewarding family experiences.

Read to Me, Daddy By Russ Walsh

Read to me, Daddy

Of faraway places

Where elephants reign

And turtles win races.

Read to me, Daddy

And we’ll leave on a flight

To Jupiter! Mars!

And home in one night.

Read to me, Daddy

And fill up my head

With fanciful pictures

‘Fore I go to bed.

Read to me, Daddy

Of wishes come true.

Read to me, Daddy

And I’ll read to you.

Russ Walsh is the author of The Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century, Garn Press, 2016. He has had a 45-year career as a teacher, reading specialist, and curriculum supervisor. He is the writer of the popular blog, Russ on Reading. His articles on literacy, public education and parenting have been published in The Washington Post, The Progressive, The Reading Teacher and other national publications. Russ lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with his wife, Cynthia Mershon and their two cocker spaniels.

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