Y’all, I get so excited about reading aloud to kids. Last week, I wrote about why reading aloud to kids is worth the time in our already busy days. This week, I’m sharing ideas about how to make your read-aloud sessions super-amazing for each age-group. These quick read-aloud ideas are meant to be referenced as your child grows through each stage. I’m including some titles this week, but next week I’ll go into detail some great read-aloud book options for each age and stage. For now, just remember that these links I’m including are affiliate ones. That means that if you purchase through my link, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Read Aloud Ideas for Babies and Toddlers
Who doesn’t love snuggling with a smushy little nugget? Reading aloud to a little one provides a great excuse for a cuddle. This is because babies and toddlers feel safe when they are cozied up in your lap. If you choose bright, colorful picture books for this time, your baby or toddler will have a much easier time seeing the illustrations. Older babies and toddlers LOVE books with sounds, textures, and flaps. These activate all their senses, and make reading time with you even more fun!
Talk about the book you’re reading. Even the youngest listeners are starting to make sense of how language works just by hearing your voice. As kids grow, ask questions. Toddlers love to talk about the world around them. Sing and say rhymes often. I made up my own song for Sandra Boynton’s Belly Button Book. I think she has her own recording of it, but we were just fine with my version. If you leave out words every now and then, your child will correct you!
Don’t worry if your toddler stops sitting still during your story time. That’s okay! Once small people start moving around, let them scoot along in the room where you’re reading to them. They are still listening to you!
Preschoolers and Kindergartners
Preschool and Kindergarten aged children are rocking and rolling when it comes to communication and awareness of the world around them. You can take advantage of all this curiosity by reading with your four- or five- year- old every day. Some read aloud ideas include talking about what’s happening in the book as you read. Pointing out different things on the page is also a good strategy.
Remind your child how to hold a book and turn pages when they are “pretend reading.” Make sure they notice that print goes from left to right by finger-pointing to the words as you read. In addition, point out words all around you. Store and restaurant names are fun to read. All of this helps your child develop concepts of print and concepts of word.
Read your child’s favorite books over and over if he or she likes to hear it. My daughter loved Mary Englebreit’s Mother Goose: One Hundred Best Loved Verses. Say silly rhymes, songs, and tongue twisters you know from your own childhood or from the stories you’re reading. All this helps your little one develop “phonological awareness.” This simply means that your child understands how word parts fit together. He or she can hear rhyme and can separate beginning, middle, and ending sounds of words. If your child can hear sounds early on, learning to read will be a bit easier.
Read Aloud Ideas for First and Second Graders
Most children fall into the beginner reader category by this age. They are choosing their own books and reading by themselves. To best take advantage of this new skill, bring books on your child’s level wherever you go. If you have to wait for an appointment or for an older sibling, your younger child can use the time for reading.
Share books and stories from your own childhood. My kids enjoyed listening to me read Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague. Even though these books are a little dated, I was able to explain some of the older references. Because I had always enjoyed the stories, that enthusiasm came out in my reading. Your kids will probably like listening to you read your own favorite stories as well. Remember, your child’s listening comprehension will be about two years ahead of their actual reading level.
As your child gets interested in longer and more complex books, reading aloud can get a little exhausting. That’s okay! Your local library most likely has audio books to check out. Even if you enjoy reading aloud, listening to the audio book performances of really good books can be fun.
As you read aloud or listen to an audio book with your child, end each section by demonstrating how to sum up what’s been read. This will help your child learn how to figure out what information is most important. Additionally, ask “how” and “why do you think” questions about what you and your child are reading.
Third, Fourth, and Fifth Graders
Children of this age are generally ready to read chapter books or short novels on their own. Some children in these grades are extremely proficient readers. These kids can read novels with complex vocabulary, but they may need help understanding the more in-depth themes. Because of this, older kids still need read-alouds. Your explanations and discussions will help them so much as they develop their higher order thinking and comprehension skills. Be sure to ask them questions about what they think is motivating the characters. Have them put themselves in the story and think about their own solutions to the conflict.
If you and your child take on a novel that is too overwhelming, difficult, or just plain boring, don’t be afraid to put it aside. Choose books that interest both of you. Don’t forget those audio books!
Remember, your read-aloud time with your child should be fun for both of you. Little ones may demand the same book over and over until you want to pull your hair out. Rest assured that this phase will be over before you know it. Reading with your child will help them so much as they move through school. The quality time with you, plus the extra reading will jump- start their confidence and their literacy from the very beginning. Choosing to read daily with your kids may be one of the most impactful things you do for them. Hopefully these read aloud ideas will make the fifteen to twenty daily minutes of reading time well spent!