Reading aloud to children stimulates their imagination and curiosity and develops their language and knowledge as they experience the pleasure of stories. But reading aloud – whether it is to your own children or a group of children in your class or at a reading club – is not something that comes naturally to everyone. Here are 10 tips to help you:
1. Choose books to read that you enjoy but also ones that match your children’s changing interests.
2. Reading aloud is always a performance! Put lots of expression in your voice to create the mood!
3. Practice makes perfect so if you’re new to this, read the story aloud before you read it to a group of children.
4. Try to be aware of your listeners and don’t read too fast! Allow time for them to look closely at the illustrations or to create a mental picture as you read.
5. Books with rhyme, rhythm and repetition make good read-aloud books for young children and to introduce a new language. As they get to know the story, encourage children to join in as you read. Picture books are useful when reading to children of different ages, like all the children in your family or at a reading club. Even teenagers enjoy picture books!
6. Children may need time to settle before you begin reading. Young children respond well to singing a song or saying a rhyme or guessing what the story might be about from the cover picture and title. Ask older children to recall what happened in a novel at the end of your last read-aloud session.
7. Start by reading the name of the author (and illustrator) so children appreciate that books are created by people just like them!
8. We all have to learn how to listen to and engage with a story. Draw your children into the story: for example, ask them what they think might happen next, discuss one of the pictures or ask them to turn the pages for you.
9. When you read a picture book, make sure that all the children get a chance to see the pictures. You might like to pause to show the pictures and allow comments or questions as you read or after you’ve read the whole book through once.
10. If you are reading a novel aloud, read a chapter or part of a chapter each day. Find a place in the story to stop that will make your listeners eager for you to continue tomorrow.