Have you ever wondered how you could make reading aloud at home as fun as it is at the Library? Even if you don’t have puppets or other props, reading can still be fun at home. Looking for a bonus? Since our new Winter Reading Challenge tracks minutes read rather than books, all the time you spend reading to your kids can count as reading time for you as well!
Here are a few ideas for making your read-aloud time as fun at home as it is during story time.
- Read the book first so that you know what the story is about and you won’t have any surprises you aren’t prepared for as you are reading.
- Have a designated area in your home where you can go to read aloud. It can be a special carpet, the couch or a reading tent that you build together. A special place for reading makes the time together more magical.
- Look at the book cover together and try to guess what the book is going to be about before you even start reading.
- If you are reading a picture book make sure that they can see the pictures. Turning the book so you can read the text and then showing them the pictures is not fun for little ones. They like to really study the pictures. If you have read the book previously you already kind of know the text which can help. You can also add to the text to make the story funny. Most small children won’t be following the text so they won’t know if you change it just a bit. Don’t be afraid to insert things like your children’s own names. It will help them love the book even more if they think it was written just for them.
- Read with enthusiasm and with different voice inflections. If you have listened to audiobooks the reader gives each character a different voice to distinguish them. This adds so much to the story for little ones. Don’t be afraid of being silly with your children: it helps them develop their imaginations as they listen to the story. Give it all you've got – add hand motions, facial expressions, and sound effects; this only adds to the experience and makes it fun for your children. Even older children enjoy hearing stories read in a fun way. It will transport the audience into the story in a more vivid way.
- Notice how your audience is reacting to the story. If the story has long text that is boring, make up your own text that goes along with the pictures or shorten the text by telling it in your own words. If they are bored they start to associate reading with boredom. Make reading enjoyable.
- Children love to ask questions, but stopping too frequently during the story interrupts the flow so try to wait until the end to answer any questions. It's always fun to discuss the book after it is over to see how everyone felt about it.
- Just have fun!
Here are some of my favorite picture books to read aloud.
THE LEGEND OF ROCK PAPER SCISSORS
By Drew Daywalt
Everyone has played the game Rock Paper Scissors, but learning how this legendary game started is not for the faint of heart. This is a hilarious book that tells the point of view of each of the warriors – Rock, Paper, Scissors – who have never been defeated in battle. It’s a great book to read aloud because each warrior has its own personality and you can use voice inflections to really make the story come alive. Be prepared to read this book out loud again and again. It’s a real favorite.
By Jules Feiffer
This is an older book, but it’s become one of my favorite read-aloud books because you can have everyone who is listening participate in the reading. George has lost his bark and can’t seem to figure out how to get it back. He meows like a cat and moos like a cow, but he just can’t seem to bark like a dog. Younger listeners will love helping you make all the animal sounds as you read this book together.
THE TRUE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS
By Jon Scieszka
Everyone knows the story of the three little pigs, but have you ever heard it told from the point of view of the poor wolf? He wasn’t actually a bad guy. He just needed to borrow a cup of sugar to make a cake for his dear old granny, but no one would loan him some sugar. This classic tale can be read with so many different voices and you can have help from your listeners to make all of the sound effects in the story. They can help you knock on the door, blow and sneeze like the wolf, and make the crashing sounds as the house falls down.
THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES
By B.J. Novak
This book, as the title states, has no pictures. You would think that a book like that would be very boring for someone to read, but it’s the language in the book that makes everyone laugh. As a child, you don’t get to hear adults say silly ridiculous words like “blurp,” but this book is all about saying the ridiculous. This is also a favorite book for many children and one that will be asked for again and again.
SAM & DAVE DIG A HOLE
By Mac Barnett
Best friends Sam and Dave decide one afternoon that they are going to dig a hole all the way to China. They are planning to have lunch in China and then come home for dinner. Children are captivated by this story because who doesn’t enjoy digging a nice big hole? The character that gets the most attention in this story, however, is the dog. Pay close attention to what he is doing as you read this fun story. There are a lot of details in the illustrations that make this a fun book to look at together.