One of our favorite family traditions is having a book we read aloud together. We usually try to read a couple of chapters before bedtime. Sometimes we read when we just need some down time. And some times we just take a day to cuddle up and read. We also read in the car, especially on long car trips. Usually I am the reader, but sometimes we have audio books and listen together as a family. Sometimes my boys will just sit and listen. Or cuddle up with me to listen. They are active boys, so often they will get out a bucket of Legos and build while they listen or draw with paper and colored pencils.
I love it. I love the time together as a family. I love sharing a story with one another that we can talk about, much like we do with a movie we’ve watched together. It is also a great way to discuss character traits we do or do not want to see developed in our children, help them identify challenges and discuss possible solutions, learn new words and understand ideas they may not have picked up on alone. My favorite words are, “Just one more chapter, please, Mom!” It is also a great chance to introduce books my kids may not ever pick up on their own, but they are willing to listen to it read aloud as a family and often discover they really enjoyed it. Some of my kids enjoy books, but feel chapter books are daunting, so aren’t as willing to read on their own. So reading aloud is a way to help them enjoy chapter books and develop a love for them, so that when their reading ability is stronger they will have that love for books instilled in them.
Reading aloud together helps kids know that reading is fun, not just a school assignment. They will be more eager to read on their own as well because it is a fun activity they have participated in with their family. It doesn’t matter if your kids are great readers. My oldest is 11 and was reading chapter books before Kindergarten. He is a strong and avid reader. But he still loves to listen to stories together with our family. Taking time to read to your children is a gift of time that will never be wasted.
Kids today have a lot of access to movies, computer games, iPads and iPods, video game consoles, that good old-fashioned reading is falling by the wayside. Yet reading good literature helps educate kids, helps them do better in school, helps them learn more about the world, improves vocabulary and sentence structure. Enjoy a good book with your kids. Share in the story. Read aloud and teach them the joy of books.
Some of our favorite read-alouds we have enjoyed are:
The Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder – although I have all boys, this was a great series about strength in families, hard work, good character, and history.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – my younger boys especially loved this story. It is very touching.
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George – we listened to this book about a boy that leaves home and lives on his own in the mountains. A courageous story of survival.
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare – about a boy during colonial times left by his father on their new property while the father gets the rest of the family. The boy becomes friends with a Native-American boy as they learn to communicate and understand one another.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum – while similar to the movie, the original story has quite a few different turns in plot. It is a fairly short, fun read. We enjoy reading books that we can watch the movie afterwards.
Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood – not a great piece of literary work, but just a fun read combining magic and cooking and a girl that gets herself in all sorts of trouble.
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce – it was a fun adventure that had us laughing, imagining, and exploring. I liked the discussions we had about dads and kids.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo – we listened to this as an audiobook in the car. It is a very sweet story of a china rabbit who learns about loving. We don’t always appreciate those who we have in our lives, sometimes, until they are gone. All of my kids (ages 4-10) listened carefully to the story and really enjoyed it. It’s simple and sweet.
Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary – Ramona is a spunky kid that brings up good discussion about families, trying to do what is right, and loving each other.
The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick – a fun, short read set during the Civil War time period. Great book for boys who like adventure.
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli – this is another book we listened to on a recent road trip. Maniac is an orphan and the story follows his life in an almost “too tall” to be true life, but teaches some important lessons without being preachy.
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry – this is our most recent family read aloud. This one definitely kept my boys’ attention better than any book we have read in awhile! It was full of adventure, excitement, magic, danger, and funny too. We just started the sequel – Peter and the Shadow Thieves.
We have also been reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the original versions. There are 211 in the book we have. We are just over half way. Some of the original fairy tales are interesting, some quite strange! We like to talk about lessons learned or how stories may have come about.
Some books we have read with my older boys are The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Fablehaven, Harry Potter series, and the first Anne of Green Gables.
There are so many great books available, I wish we had more time to read together! There is still time left in the summer to start a book together. Don’t let the busy-ness of the school year deter you from even reading a chapter or two a day. Or even getting audio books you can have in the car as you are driving from one activity to another. A love for reading is a gift that will benefit your and your children’s lives for a lifetime.
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