Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


My last post included guidelines on how to choose good books. This entry focuses on practical tips for reading aloud to children:

1. Try to set aside some time each day for reading aloud.

2. Be attentive to your child's reading/listening level - don't force a book too early, but remember that children can understand and enjoy books above their reading level.

3. For very young children, remember that they enjoy and are stimulated by stories with rhythm and repetition. The sounds of language count most at this stage.

4. Be aware that myths, fairytales, and folktales come in many adaptations. Find the good ones! And look for editions with illustrations that don't trivialize the text, but do it justice.

5. Reading aloud will be more enjoyable for all if you can find stories that you, yourself, liked.

6. Good stories deserve a good telling - practice, or at least skim over, the book you intend to read, if possible. That way, you'll be prepared for the plot, characters (voices!), and rhythm.

7. Be expressive when you read aloud. Learn to slow down, speed up, create suspense with a low voice, etc.

8. Allow your children time to settle down before you start...if you're reading a picture book, you could talk about what's on the cover. If it's a chapter book, you can gently prompt your child to remember what happened where you left off.

9. Don't be tempted to explain the "moral" of the story. Just enjoy the story and let it speak for itself. At the same time, it's perfectly fine if the book brings out conversations and questions, just try to let your child do the asking spontaneously.

10. Balance read-aloud time with silent reading time. (Even prereaders can have time alone with their picture books.) As my kids got older, naptime was replaced with "quiet time", as they did their silent reading.

-Adapted from BOOKS THAT BUILD CHARACTER, by William Kilpatrick and Gregory and Suzanne M. Wolfe.

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