Over the last two weeks, my kids and I have been engrossed in a family read aloud. I checked out the digital edition of The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. Since it was only a two-week check-out, it was a race to complete the book before it magically disappeared from my iPad.
Books, and specifically family read-alouds, have been a unifying thread in the fabric of our family since my eldest was about three years old. He’s always been a good listener and back then while I nursed his baby brother we read through The Little House books and Narnia. Ever since then I have always felt more “at one” with my children when we have a chapter book going.
My youngest child, a four-year old child of the technology age is not quite “into” our read alouds yet. But the others, ages 6, 8, 10, and 12, all enjoy them. Even today at fifteen, my eldest son lurks in the shadows or mutes the hockey game so that he can hear me read to his siblings.
And then he sneaks the book when I’m not looking so he can read the parts he missed or read ahead in case he’s not around to eavesdrop later.
This shows me the value of a good family read-aloud. Reading stories, particularly lengthy children’s literature, is a great way to share an experience with your children without going anywhere. We share theories about how the plot will progress, make guesses as to how it will end, reminisce over the surprises and favorite parts, and anticipate the next installment of series books.
Reading aloud to my kids does a number of things for me and for them.
- We make a designated time each day to sit and spend together.
- We talk more.
- We share what we’re thinking and feeling.
- We unplug. Except for the ipad or Kindle screen, we’re looking at real faces.
- We interact in a human way, discussing characters’ situations or how they make us feel.
- We learn new vocabulary and punctuation. Four of my kids can read on their own, but time and again, someone will look over my shoulder and comment, “Oh! Is that how you say that word?”
Family read-alouds are one important tool that helps me feel connected to my kids. I love the time we spend together and that we’re learning together while we do it.
Have you got a favorite read aloud book?