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Homeschooling Tips

They're Never Too Old for Read-Alouds!

Written by iamhomeschooling.com.

Besides the academic benefits of reading to our children, reading aloud provides an opportunity for quality family bonding time and creates wonderful lasting memories.

Great Read-Alouds

So, what are some of the benefits of reading aloud?

Read-alouds build reading, writing, thinking, listening and observational skills. Children learn new words, build background knowledge, and develop interests. Reading aloud also helps lengthen a child's attention span. (If your children are fidgety and have difficulty keeping still, let them draw or do something quietly by themselves while you read.)

What do you read?

If you're reading to infants and toddlers, snuggle up together with picture books. Goodnight Moon and Make Way for Ducklings are great choices, as both of these books are known for helping children learn the sounds that make up the English language. Younger children love books that rhyme, so Mother Goose rhymes and Dr. Suess books are perfect for read-alouds. When children are old enough to pick out books for themselves, let them—even if it means reading the same book for the hundredth time. (It will happen, trust me.) Then, as your children get older, move on to chapter books and novels.

While children typically make the gradual transition from board books to novels, don't be afraid to read a novel to a younger child (as long as it isn't too complex) or a picture book to a teenager. If it will hold their attention or spark their imagination, whether it's a poem, an informational article, a short story, or a novel, read it! Need help choosing books? Ask your librarian—your best resource ever! You will also find many websites offering book lists on the internet. We recommend the Recommended Books list at Read Aloud America, the Great Read-Alouds and Memorable Books! list at the Niskayuna Central School District's website, and this downloadable Interactive Read Aloud PDF file from The Reading & Writing Project.

If you're planning to read something you haven't read before, practice reading the selection before you read it to your child. If you discover words significant to the story that your child hasn't learned, be prepared to explain their meanings. If there are situations your child hasn't been exposed to, have a brief discussion before you begin reading or be ready to give explanations when the situations come up. Asking questions improves literacy, so make sure your child knows that it's okay to interrupt if they need you to clarify something you have read.

When should you read?

Anytime is a good time to read, provided you'll be free from distractions. Aim for about 15 minutes a day. In the morning, before school, after lunch, before dinner, at bedtime, and even when your child is upset about something or when your child is ill. You can also incorporate read-alouds into your homeschool. A story can be a great discussion starter, so allow time to talk about the selection when you are finished.  Make a conscious effort to pace yourself when you read to your child. Don't be in a hurry to finish the selection, and don't read it too slowly. Read with passion, don't be afraid to show your emotions, and speak clearly and fluently.

A few books we recommend:

The Read Aloud HandbookHey! Listen to ThisRead All About It!Easy to Tell Stories for Young ChildrenClassics to Read Aloud to Your ChildrenRead-Aloud Anthology

Ready to get started? Thinking about stopping?

Many summer reading programs have provisions allowing parents to read to children learning to read, so the summer is a great time to take advantage of these opportunities and start a read-aloud routine. Already reading? Great! Don't stop...ever! Seriously. Many parents stop reading to their kids once they start reading for themselves or once their children decide they're "too old" to be read to. But even teenagers enjoy a good story, just be sure to choose selections that interest them. Reading aloud benefits children on so many levels, don't miss out on this special opportunity. It's never to late to start!