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5 Tips for Reading Aloud to Kids

The Children’s Book Review

Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing Column 13

This editorial article was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.

Tips and Tricks to Keep Young Kiddos Engaged and to Help With Comprehension

Reading aloud to my children and students is one of my all-time favorite things to do. It has so many benefits, such as bonding, helping to make different kinds of connections, and enhancing listening comprehension and vocabulary, just to name a few! I am lucky to have a background in education, which has given me some tips and tricks to keep young kiddos engaged and to help them comprehend the text as well. Here are a few of my favorite tips to help boost your reading aloud time!

The Power of Choice

Let your kiddo choose the book you will be reading aloud or choose from a few books you have pre-selected. I have to admit that this is hard for me to do! I love so many books and want to share them all with my kids, but we compromise. We take turns choosing a chapter book to read aloud each night before bed. Once we are done with the book, we’ll see if there is a movie version to compare and contrast with, and then we start the next book. Right now, we are on a major Roald Dahl kick. We have read Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryJames and the Giant Peach is next, and we are all very pumped about it!

Book and Reading

Help Build Background

Building context and background knowledge is essential to help your child be invested in the book they’re about to read as well as helping them to comprehend the text (thus helping them enjoy the book, too). You can do this in many different ways. Here are a few suggestions:

  • If there is a movie version of the book, watch the trailer.
  • Discuss the setting—specifically, the time, place, and situation. This discussion is especially important for historical fiction books and books that occur during a completely different era that might be confusing for kids.
  • Search online for photographs of the setting or any other relevant content to help support comprehension and visualization of the events in the book.

Image and Art

Read With a Ton of Emotion

When reading aloud, EXAGGERATE! It makes reading more exciting, fun, and engaging, and it also models what fluent readers sound like—reading smoothly and with emotion. Fluency is very important because it also aids in reading comprehension. Extend or practice this by having your child reread a favorite scene or page from one of their independent reading books and encourage them to exaggerate. They won’t even know they are working on their fluency.

dad and kids reading with flashlight

Take Breaks to Share

Whether there is a word that needs to be defined or just an exciting scene that warrants a little chat, make sure to occasionally pause to let your kids share their thoughts, questions, predictions, or connections. Doing so will help boost their comprehension, build more joy around reading, encourage analytical thinking, and help to spark powerful conversations.

teacher reading a book to kids

Press Play on your “Mind Movie”

Encourage your child to visualize as they read. Older readers automatically know to try and visualize, but younger readers may need more explicit instructions. They can learn how to visualize as they listen to a book being read aloud by listening to strong modeling. For instance, after a descriptive scene, stop and “think aloud” by sharing what you see in your “mind movie.” I like to teach my younger kiddos that visualizing is imagining your very own “mind movie” with help from the author’s colorful and descriptive language. The fantastic thing about mind movies is that everyone’s is unique. This is a great topic to stop and occasionally discuss, too.

Image and Art

We hope these tips are helpful to you and help to continue to instill a love of reading in your home. What book are you reading aloud to your family? Please make sure to let us know!

Thank you for reading the Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing column. Bookmark this link or subscribe to our e-newsletter so you do not miss out on the monthly reading tips. 5 Tips for Reading Aloud to Kids was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.—follow her on Instagram: @wildflower_learning_denver.

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Lizzie loves literacy. And alliteration! With over a decade of classroom teaching experience, and years of one on one reading and dyslexia intervention, Lizzie understands the challenges and rewards of engaging with young readers. Her passion for helping children overcome learning difficulties to fall in love with reading led to the launch of Wildflower Learning; a private practice that serves the needs of young readers in Denver, CO. Follow @wildflower_learning_denver on Instagram for more literacy tips & tricks.

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