Friday, May 15, 2009
Reading to your kids is one of the best gifts you can give them. Not only is it a great way to bond, but you’re also preparing child to read on his own.
It takes a while to get used to reading aloud. It was a good year after my daughter was born before I felt like I was getting good at it. But with a little practice and these tips, you too can become a master storyteller.
1. Pick a great book. Not all books are created equal in the world of read-aloud. Choose books that interest both you and your child. Do you like funny books? Sweet books? Books about rockets? Books about monkeys? Also, pick books with rich illustrations so you have more to talk about than the words on the page.
2. Remember you’re reading to a child, not a chair. Put a little emotion into the story and get into the rhythm of the language. Ham it up — try doing the voices. Children make a great audience when you’re trying out your inner improv actor.
3. Involve your child. Don’t feel like you have to read uninterrupted. Stop and talk about some of the pages. Ask your child about what’s happening in the story. What would she do if she were the character? Ask her to find things in the illustrations. Many books have things hidden in the illustrations for this purpose — ever notice the red balloon floating through Goodnight Gorilla?
4. Add some sound design. Take clues from the text and try adding some sound effects when you read. If you’re reading Walter the Farting Dog and NOT making fart noises, you’re missing an opportunity to captivate your little listener.
5. Make mistakes. This is one of my favorite things to do, especially when reading a book we’ve read a hundred times before. Try replacing words and let your child correct you. For example, try saying, “Don’t let the pigeon drive the car!” and you’ll be met with screams of “the BUS!” Not only does this involve your child, but it also shows him that it’s okay to make mistakes when reading.
Check back here in the next couple of weeks as we feature posts about reading aloud. Now go read!