Monday, February 6, 2012

Practices of Parenting: Reading Out Loud!

Some time ago I came across Sarah Bessey's blog, Emerging Mummy.  I loved her writing immediately, her take on parenting and marriage, and her honesty through it all.  Some time ago she started posting about parenting practices - or what helps us enjoy parenting right now!  I loved this idea and when she asked for contributions I knew right away I wanted to write about reading out loud to my kids.

When my first daughter was born I began the practice of reading out loud to my own children.  It was a day I had longed for.  It was something I knew I could do well.  I am a big reader.  I am a former classroom teacher.  I am a daughter of a mother and father who read out loud throughout my childhood.  I read out loud to Maria as often as I could in between nursing and napping.  I remember loving the rhythm of so many early board books.  She was turning pages by the time she could sit up.

Down the road two more babies were born, and both my husband and I read to them as often as we could.  I read to the littles and Daddy read to Maria.  They read through Caldecott and Newberry books, they went to Narnia, to Hogwarts and beyond, while I read board books, while the littles learned to turn pages.

 And I don’t know when it happened but one day, the littles were ready for chapter books too and we could all read together.  Whatever we are reading out loud we are reading to all three of them at the same time. 

There is nothing like being read to, and for me there is nothing that compares with reading to children.  I love having their attention – having them fully engaged in a story.  Reading out loud allows us to process in a different way, to really hear.

In my classroom it was the time during the day that refreshed us as a group, that reset us and allowed us to start over.  It gave us topics to discuss, characters and plot to wonder about - aloud with friends.  I find it does this at home, too.  I love listening to my kids wonder aloud what will happen next – what they would change if they were writing.  It gives them a common language.  It helps them bond with each other and with me.

At ages 8 and 11, there are so many wonderful books to read, I find myself wondering if we should quit school for a year just to read books!  It continues to be our favorite time of the day.  It is the way to help us reset after school or after an argument.  It has the power to calm and distill tempers – to refresh us. 

I hope no matter the age of your kids you can find something to read out loud to them each day – a poem, scripture, a novel, even non-fiction.  I also want my kids to be life-long learners and readers.  Reading out loud plants the seed.

(These photos are old ones - it seems if you read out loud, there isn't anyone to take a picture of it...  We are currently reading Tolkein's  Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Enchanted Castle, by E. Nesbit.)


  1. Beth, Clearly this post made me smile-- I love reading about another family's read-aloud experience, and how that works in a classroom as well. (I'm also excited to discover new blogs as part of this carnival.)

  2. Absolutely beautiful. I love the photos, too. Thank you so much!

  3. This elementary librarian says - Awesome!

  4. As a daughter of the same parents I concur. Also, while I never could get into "playing" with the kids when their imaginary games were well, over my head, I could always read to them. I will drop anything to read to them even now (or play Dutch Blitz). I'm always surprised how much more I learn from reading a book out loud vs. reading it myself. I hear it differently when I imagine how they are hearing and processing it. Reading aloud also helps to weed the wheat from the chaff. Currently reading third Mysterious Benedict to P and The Apothecary to the Girls. Can't say I would pick them again, but just ordered Wingfeather Saga after trying it from the library.

  5. Thanks for sharing this! What a great idea! I'm excited for my daughter to get a bit bigger so we can read more than Sandra Boyton books!

  6. Beth, kudos to you for reading aloud to your kids. My husband and I read aloud to our kids, although I'm having a harder time reading as much to my youngest daughter than I did with my first. It was so much easier to fit books in when I only had one child! Do you have any tips for squeezing in reading time throughout the day with two children?

  7. I would have loved to quit school for a year to read read read!!