Sunday, July 7, 2013

Books to read aloud

On Mondays for the next few months, I will be reviewing a selection of good books to read aloud to your kids. Aimed mainly at the 7-12 age range, I will be reviewing novels rather than picture books. There are so many good books available; sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.

Also, just because a book is a good read, does not mean it is always great to read aloud. Sometimes long explanations can make it hard, following complicated details of maps or directions, or even complicated character names make it hard to follow along while listening. Other books seem to have been designed to read aloud – they are easy to pronounce and add voice variation (for the one reading aloud) and easy to follow and appreciate (for the one listening).

I read aloud to our kids most nights – usually individually, but sometimes with two or all three. For a while I didn’t – the older two had learned to read and love reading, so were just as happy curled up in bed on their own reading. But as I have started to read to them and continued to make it a priority – I have come to realise the great benefits of reading aloud to older children:

1. You can enjoy a story together. If neither of you have read the book before, you both are excited about finding out about what happens. When my son and I read the Deltora Quest series 1 (9 books) together – we both loved discovering what happened at the end, it was really exciting for both of us. When you have read it previously, you enjoy seeing how they respond. When my son and I first read Charlotte’s Web, he was stunned to realise Charlotte died, and I remembered my own reaction to the same thing as a child.

2. You can talk about it together. Any book will raise things to talk about – whether it is the characters and how they act, the world events the book is set in, how you would feel in the same situation, etc. As Christians, we can also then talk about how God thinks about such things and how we as Christians might react in the same circumstances.

3. You understand how your kids think and what appeals to them. If they love the book you are reading, you can ask why. If they don’t like it, again you can talk about why. You learn what they find funny and what they don’t understand.

4. You can pick up gaps in their own reading and vocabulary. Most nights I try to hand one of my kids the book we are reading and they read aloud a few pages. It gives them reading aloud practice, and helps me see how their decoding, comprehension and expression skills are coming along.

So, lots of good books are coming up. As usual, I would love your ideas too – there is no way we have read all the good books to read aloud out there – so let me know you favourites too!

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