Updated: Mar 9, 2021
Reading aloud to your child on a daily basis is one of the most powerful things you can do to prepare them as readers and writers. Reading aloud fosters oral language development – a critical building block for emerging readers.
Here are best practices for reading aloud to your child to ensure maximum engagement and learning:
1.) Read out loud to your child for a minimum of 15 minutes each day. Try to keep this time consistent and sacred (e.g., right before meal times, first thing in the morning, before bed). Ideally, try to get at least two read aloud sessions in each day.
2.) Allow your child to pick at least one of the texts you read during read aloud. It is OKAY for them to pick the same book over and over again. Talk about what types of books you are reading, such as, "This is a book of poems. This is a make-believe story - we call it a fiction book".
3.) Point out the front cover and back cover every time. Also, point out where on a page to begin reading. Have your child help with this (e.g., Where is the front cover?)
4.) Always read the title, author, and illustrator of each text. Think out loud about what the author does (writes the words of the story) and what the illustrator does (draws the pictures).
5.) Look at the front cover of the book and think out loud about the title. Ask your child "What do you think this story might be about? Why do you think that?" "What does the title make you think of?" "What type of story do you think this might be?"
6.) Periodically take a picture walk by flipping through the story before you begin reading and look at the pictures. After taking your Picture Walk, discuss what you think the book will be about. Get excited to share "Let's Read to Find Out!" and get into the book.
7.) Make sure your child can always see the words in a book. If you are using a digital platform to read books (EPIC or YouTube) make sure the read aloud is one that shows the words as well as the pictures. Try to read physical books as much as possible.
8.) Track the words with your finger while you read. Point to each word as you read the word aloud. This may slow down your reading but that is OKAY.
9.) Stop when you come to new words and think out loud about their meaning. Ask your child to use the pictures in the story to make guesses about what the word may mean. Provide definitions of unknown words as needed.
10.) Occasionally choose short, small words to blend out loud. "He sat on the caaaaaaat" After blending the word repeat the word fluently (caaaaat - cat).
11.) Stop occasionally during the story to think out loud about what is happening and ask your child to do the same. (e.g., What do you think will happen next? How do you think the character is feeling? Why do you think that? Can you think of a time when you felt that way?) Use illustrations to support meaning making.
12.) As your child practices sight words, identify them in your stories. Have them look out for sight words in your read aloud books. Let your child read the sight word out loud and point to it.
13.) Think out loud about the book at the end of the read aloud. Ask short comprehension questions or reactions to the text (e.g., What happened in this story? What was your favorite part of the story? Did that book remind you of any other books we've read? What was the problem in the story and how was it solved?)
Reading aloud to your child is extremely important! Make time for it every day!
Katie Eichman, M.Ed.
Co-Founder, Thoughtful Play, LLC