Ideas for reading aloud to your children

For parents

Just because your children are growing up, this doesn’t mean you have to stop reading to and with them. But perhaps what you read can change.

What you can read to your children

  • Older children enjoy having chapter books read to them.  Nine-year-olds, for example, who cannot read Harry Potter independently are very happy to listen to a parent’s reading.  Involve your child in the choice of book and establish how and when you will read.
  • Older children who have not ‘taken’ to reading independently often prefer to be read non-fiction books on a topic that interests them.  Science and nature books, and books on sports, are often popular with boys, for instance. And when you talk together about the book content, you are also encouraging the development of their oral and thinking skills.
  • Reading need not be confined to books.  Many older readers are reading material on the Internet.  You can explore a website with your child, helping him or her to recognize hyperlinks and to navigate around the website in a useful  way.  Since navigation of websites often involves  ‘wrong’ choices and the need to backtrack in order to find information, exploring a website together is a good way to demonstrate how this is done in a meaningful rather than a random way.
  • Don’t overlook picture books.  There are lots of picture books that are suitable for older readers and which will stimulate a great deal of discussion.

How you can read to your children 
Read in a way that provides your listening child with extra clues to help him or her  understand what you are reading.

  •  Read at a moderate pace to give the listener time to absorb what you’re reading.
  • Pause at full-stops.
  • Read with intonation that indicates, for example, the mood of a speaking character.  If the character is angry, use a tone that expresses this.
  • Raise your voice at the end of a sentence that asks a question.
  • If reading a book with pictures, photographs or diagrams, stop to ask questions and discuss.
  • If reading a story, perhaps change your voice to reflect the character who is speaking.
  • Ask questions about what you’re reading:  ‘What do you think will happen next?’  ‘Why do you think he did that?’
  • If reading a chapter book, try to stop at a suspenseful point, one that leaves them wanting to find out what happens next.  Create a sense of anticipation.

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