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7 Helpful Tips for Reading Aloud to Children

7 Helpful Tips for Reading Aloud to Children


By Mrs. Pam Todd

March 11, 2020

March is here and you know what that means…it’s Dr. Seuss’s birthday and a reason to continue to celebrate reading! 

We all know reading aloud to children is an essential part of building crucial literacy skills—and it’s a fun and effective way to connect with kids. However, it’s not always easy! For example, you may wonder how in the world are you supposed to read a wordless picture book out loud?

Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite tips for reading aloud to help your little learners become successful readers. If you read aloud using these tips, you will not only build literacy skills, but you will have fun too!

1. Let the Child Pick the Book. It’s an excellent way to get young children involved in the reading. Bonus tip: young children are attracted to the covers of books, so face them out or provide a tub or basket of books.

2. Don’t Be Afraid of Wordless Picture Books! When reading a wordless picture book, ask the children questions such as:

What do you think is happening here? (comprehension)

What makes you think that? (inferring)

What do you think will happen next? (predicting)

Why? (vocabulary and oral language)

3. Start Small. The younger the child the shorter the attention span. In the beginning, choose shorter books or books that are not too text-heavy. Then, as you notice their attention spans getting longer, you can start reading longer books. 

4. Be Creative With Your Voice. If different characters are speaking in the book, try doing a high voice for one and a low voice for another character. Or if you can speak in an accent like a Southern or British accent for a certain character, kids will eat that up! When the story has a sound effect, make the most of it! A loud “BOOM!” or an animal sound will do wonders to keep the children engaged. Vary your tone. For sad parts, talk in a lower tone. For happy parts, talk in an excited voice! 

5. Read It Again. As adults we may not always enjoy reading the same book day after day but reading the same book multiple times can really help children develop language skills and improve reading comprehension. If you are really tired of reading the same book, try reading it in a different voice. Or as you are reading, try stopping at a key word and see if the children can fill it in for you! 

6. Read Aloud to Big Kids, Too. It might surprise you to know that reading aloud isn’t just for young children who can’t read on their own yet. In The Read-Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease says, “kids usually listen on a higher level than they read.” I know many parents who read chapter books aloud with their older children. As teachers and parents, it’s important to not give up reading aloud in the upper grades. One of my fondest memories of elementary school was my fourth grade teacher reading aloud to us daily. 

7. Explain Some New Words. Should you stop and explain every unfamiliar word in the book? If you did that, it would take forever to get through one book! Instead, I recommend inserting explanations of a few of the words your children may not have heard before – no more than half. Each time you re-read the book, you can explain different new words to build vocabulary. 

Now that you are a master at the art of reading aloud, it’s time to help your kiddos carry on with reading at home.  Have fun with your children and continue the habit of reading every night.

Thanks for supporting literacy at home and at school!  

Happy Reading!