Reading aloud to your child conveys the loving message- “I want to read this book to you because I care about you, I respect you, and I value our time together.” (Marx and Kasok)
In “Help Me Get Ready To Read” workshops, parents often tell about the trouble they have getting their child to “sit still” during read-aloud time. It is essential for parents to understand that what seems easy for one child might be a challenge for another. Each child is unique with his or her own temperament and personality, likes and dislikes, attention span, and developmental timeline. Having realistic expectations for your child is important for read-aloud success. Read-aloud time should be a positive experience that encourages your child to learn, create, imagine, and play.
We suggest one of these early literacy strategies if your child looses interest during read-aloud time:
• Focus on fostering your child’s self-esteem rather than finishing the book. Both adults and child should feel good about the time spent together. Close the book and explain that you will finish reading it later. Help your child make a bookmark with his or her name on it. Have your child insert it in the book to show where you should start reading the next time.
• Do a brief picture walk telling the rest of the story in your own words. A picture walk takes less time than reading the text. This results in a sense of accomplishment for your child when you finish. Give positive parenting praise to your child for the good job he or she is doing sitting with you, listening to the story, and looking at the pictures.
• Give your child specific tasks to do keep him or her s engaged in the book. You might have your child turn the pages; hold the book; follow your finger as you move it under the words as you read aloud; point to things in the picture; or join in as you read repetitive or rhyming text.
Happy Reading Aloud!
Susan Marx is Co-author of “Help Me Get Ready To Read: The Practical Guide For Reading Aloud to Children During Their First Five Years” with Barbara Kasok. Susan is a parent educator, writer and editor of educational material for students and teachers, and elementary classroom teacher. She has led over 600 positive parenting workshops for diverse groups of parents and professionals on a range of topics including creating home-school partnerships, helping children succeed in school, understanding children’s temperament, and getting children ready for kindergarten. As a writer and editor, she has prepared materials for reading, social studies, spelling, and language arts textbooks for major textbook publishers.