When my children were born I read to them from day one. I loved to snuggle up and read a good book to my babies. When C was around 2 or 3 I read to him while he built legos. For R, I read to her until she wanted to read by herself. As of late I have realized how important it is to read aloud with older children. I used to think it wasn’t a big deal to let them read independently. After all, independent reading is a very important skill for children. However, I have been learning that it is just as important to read aloud to my older children.
Read Aloud with Older Children
I know it can get overwhelming to think of adding one more thing to your plate. I was the same way. When I started working from home more, I started to see the value of deliberate time with the kids. For us, this time means sitting and reading together. Here are a few things I have learned as we have made read aloud time a priority.
Give them something to keep their hands busy.
My oldest will sit and listen as I read to them without a problem. The 6 year old on the other hand, gets bored too quickly with just sitting. His hands need to be busy. For C, I will do a few different things. I allow him to do anything that is quiet while we read. That means that he can build legos, color, or play with toys that don’t make noise. He is able to enjoy the story while keeping his hands busy.
Be prepared for questions.
This may just be my 6 year old, but he asks questions the whole time I read. “What does that word mean? What do they mean by that? Wait, what just happened?” I don’t mind answering his questions because he is learning by asking them. My oldest also loves to ask questions about the characters or exclaim, “What in the world was the writer thinking? That is horrible!”
Find a book that grabs their interest.
Right now we are working our way through Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. My daughter is a huge fan of Harry Potter. She does her independent reading and then she will update us on the story for when I take over for read aloud time. I like doing it this way because I get to see how much she is really comprehending from her independent reading time. When you find a book that your child is already interested in, read aloud time will be easy.
Have a set read aloud time.
For us, read aloud time is every night before bed. We all meet in the living room and read together. Some nights it’s only 10 minutes and others I read for an hour. I try to base it on how tired the kids are and how interested they are in the book. You don’t want read aloud time to be a frustration. The goal is to build a love of reading into your children.
Have your kids read aloud to you.
I don’t always read during read aloud time. Sometimes R will ask to do the reading instead. I have really enjoyed this because I am able to see exactly where R is with her reading skills. I am able to see where there are words that she struggles with and see exactly what her strengths are. It also helps her to gain confidence in her reading ability. I am able to praise her for doing a great job and affirm her abilities.
Have fun with it.
You should see me reading to these two. I look like a goofball half the time. I like to give each character their own voice and use the tones they are meant to when reading. This means I whisper, yell, use funny voices, and laugh a lot. I don’t mind being foolish for the kids. I am so glad they enjoy this time.
It doesn’t have to be a chapter book.
Are you intimidated by reading a whole chapter book? Books like The Book with No Pictures are a lot of fun to read together. You don’t have to read large books to enjoy reading with older kids. When you are reading aloud with an older child, the focus is the quality time, not the story.
Do you read aloud with your older child? What series are you reading right now?
Looking for more ways to get kids reading?