The Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report shows that when a child chooses what to read, they enjoy their book more. Since happy reading experiences lead to more frequent reading, let your child pick the book. This will give you peace of mind that they’re interested in listening and you have their attention.
If your read-aloud occurs at times of day other than bedtime, make sure a variety of books is available to meet your child’s whims. This way, they’ll always have something within reach that they want to read, says Jessica Wollman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Curriculum at Scholastic Education Solutions.
“It’s important to make books readily available to kids, especially in moments that they’re likely to be bored,” Wollman says. “It’s a great idea for parents to keep books in their bag, or in their car — you never know when you’ll be stuck in a line!”
Comfort is essential for a relaxing read-aloud. Retreat to that reading nook or makeshift space you’ve converted for the purpose of reading. Make sure it’s filled with calming touches like soft blankets and floor pillows. Designating a special place for reading supports regular reading habits.
Busy weekdays can leave you feeling exhausted and reaching for the remote. Instead, choose a short book that gets those 20 minutes of reading time in without epic effort or explanation. You’ll both feel satisfied after finishing a book in one sitting — there may even be time left over to talk about the text.
Kids look for humor in books more than any other characteristic, particularly when they’re in kindergarten and the lower grades. A funny read-aloud lets you both share a laugh and forget about the day's worries. Plus, children absorb more of a story when they’re engaged and enjoying it.
Rhyming and repetition are key for phonemic awareness — the part of phonics that emphasizes the articulation of sounds as they appear in words on the page (and, later on, spelling).
Choosing books with these elements boosts reading and language skills while delivering soothing language that lets you unwind and slip into the story. Plus, rhyming and repetition make it possible for your child to easily finish sentences and lines for you — an express route to relaxation!
One of the most relaxing ways to enjoy a read-aloud is to have someone else do the reading. This is a great opportunity for your child to test their reading and language skills by sounding out words, constructing sentences, and demonstrating comprehension. In return, you can play the role of listener, pausing your child throughout to ask questions about the text.
Nancy Garrity, Senior Director of Early Childhood at Scholastic Education Solutions, suggests having your child read a favorite book aloud to you as you prepare dinner, run a bath, wash dishes, or do laundry — an efficient way to squeeze in those 20 minutes of reading time daily.
“Even if your child is not yet reading words, he or she can retell a favorite story,” Garrity says. “Be sure to ask questions and make comments to show you are actively listening and enjoying this experience with your child.”
If your child is still in the early days of reading and unable to take over completely, get other adults in on the act. Read-alouds are a wonderful time for children to connect — even virtually — with family faces they don’t see often in person, like grandparents.
“Storytime doesn’t need to fall entirely in your lap,” says Karen Baicker, Executive Director of the Yale Child Study Center–Scholastic Collaborative for Child & Family Resilience, and Publisher for Family and Community Engagement (FACE) at Scholastic Education Solutions. “Create routines with siblings, grandparents, and friends if they are available — in person or via video chat.”
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