About 2 years ago, the kids and I spent hours laying across my bed while I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to them. Often times I’d notice their eyes closed in a dream like stance, but the minute I’d pause to make sure they were still awake, their eyes would pop open, always wanting more.
Before long, however, my older son learned to read on his own, and read ahead of us, completing the first 3 books in the series. Now a big third grader, he loves reading books on his own. But he still makes time for read alouds, sometimes joining in the reading, but, mostly, listening to my voice take on the characters and storyline.
It’s true that children should learn to read on their own, to not just decode the words but to also comprehend what they’re reading. But just as important as developing those skills is developing listening skills and listening comprehension. A child who only reads to himself misses out on opportunities to hear a different voice or a different method of reading. He also needs to continue to develop strong listening skills to become a strong student in lecture halls, in conversation and in every day life. We all need to learn how to follow another person’s words.
While many teachers assign reading as homework each evening, there are a variety of ways a child can read. Reading aloud to himself or others, reading silently to himself, listening to a story and following along on the computer (like in software such as Rusty & Rosy) or books on CD that have follow along prompts and books attached. Listening to an adult read aloud is a skill that needs to be practiced several times a week so children learn to not just listen, but to read with rhythm and learn to discuss what they’re listening to.
While nearly every story makes a great read aloud, look for books that are written with suspense. Mysteries and adventure offer a higher interest level for children and keep them coming back for more stories. A few great stories to pick up and read with your Kindergartner through third grader are:
- Harry Potter & the Sorcer’s Stone
- Nancy Drew Mysteries
- Little House on the Prairie series
- Cam Jansen series
- Magic Tree House series
- classics such as Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels, Sword in the Stone
- Stuart Little
By continuing to read with your child you’ll not just share a story, you’ll share moments that enforce a strong bond between you and your child. Enjoy reading aloud as often as you can. It won’t be long until he rolls his eyes and walks away (though I recommend that you keep reading. He’s likely really listening outside the door.)