Friday, March 8, 2013

Tips for Reading Aloud to Children

Reading aloud to your child is one of the most important things you can do as a parent or as a teacher of young children. Beginning in infancy, children benefit from hearing language and stories. Experts also agree that even after a child has learned to read, they still benefit greatly from hearing stories aloud. Here are some tips: 

1. Read the book to yourself first so you get a feel for the rhythm and tempo. 
If you're worried about pronunciation, you'll want to read the book by yourself before you have an audience. Most preschool books have vocabulary that most adults can read without problems. But, a good book will challenge children by introducing new words.

2. Hold the book so that the child/children can see the pictures while you are reading. 
This, of course, is much easier if you have a child on your lap and are reading one-on-one. But most classroom storytimes occur in front of a group of children. It takes practice to learn how to hold the book up for the audience and still read the words. Even though it might be difficult, it's important because children use the context clues in the pictures to comprehend, process, recall, and retell a story.

3. Choose books that you will enjoy reading aloud. 
Children will hear the genuine excitement in your voice and that excitement is most often contagious!

4. Read with expression! 
Using a monotone is no fun for anybody and you will quickly lose your audience- even if they are "captive."When your audience starts wiggling, poking, and pulling their neighbor's hair, you have lost their attention. Reading with expression engages the children and invites them into the story.

5. Encourage children to participate in the story. 
In some stories that repeat the same text on each page, the children can become a part of the story experience. For example, in "The Napping House" (by Audrey Wood), each page ends with "where everyone is sleeping." You can ask children what they think will happen next. Children will often anxiously anticipate their participation. Find ways to make a story an active rather than a passive experience.

6. Be prepared to read the same books again and again...and again. 
Once you find books that you enjoy reading aloud, it is likely that your children will want to hear them repeatedly. This is a great thing because memorizing stories is often a child's first step to becoming a reader!

7. If you need an example of how to read aloud, consider choosing a book that has a CD with it. 
Listen to the story with your child, and then, when you read it, you will have an idea for how to imitate the rhythm and tempo of the text. Public libraries have many of these books-with-cds available for check out.

8. Don't skip the important parts!
Spend some time looking at the cover and illustrations. If it's a book that you are reading for the first time, talk about the cover, and ask your child to predict what will happen. During the story, refer to the illustrations. Tell the children the author and illustrator's names. These are parts of a book that adults often take for granted and skip over when reading to children, but these are important parts of the story. 

9. To point or not to point? 
Should you point to the words when you read a story? Maybe sometimes, but not all the time. The very first time you read a book, you should just let the story flow naturally. On future readings, you can certainly point to the words you are reading so that the children begin to make the connection between spoken and written words. When you are pointing to the words,
slide your finger across the sentence as you read. Avoid pointing to each word, one by one, as that tends to create a choppy speech pattern. Once children know a few words by sight, point them out in stories that you read.

10. HAVE FUN!!!

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