Reading Aloud: Why the Struggle is Worth It
One of my greatest struggles as a parent has been building up the endurance to read aloud. Reading aloud has always been a goal of mine, especially since my dad read bedtime stories to me when I was little. But the actual practice of reading aloud has been much harder.
Struggles with Reading Aloud
When we started out, I had trouble reading aloud anything more than simple board books. More complicated stories like Going on a Bear Hunt were just too much. My voice was not trained. At all.
But I worked on it. And as my oldest’s attention span increased, so did my ability to read aloud longer books.
One autumn, we read Little House in the Big Woods for their bedtime story, and I started to keep a glass of water available for my voice. I still keep one nearby for longer storytimes (or tea, if I know I’ll need it). That book stretched my reading aloud skills, and I soon looked for other books that would do the same.
Later that winter, we read the collected stories of Beatrix Potter. Though the stories are fairly short, her word choice and sentence structure are a bit harder than what you’ll find in most children’s stories. They are another great stretching story, especially since the beautiful illustrations captivate small listeners. We read through the collection twice, and after that feat, I felt prepared to read even harder stories.
Reading Aloud Success
And so they build. Each story and book building on the last. We’ve enjoyed stories from Beatrix Potter to Thorton Burgess (we LOVED Old Mother West Wind’s stories) and even Winnie-the-Pooh. Each read aloud builds not only their ability to listen and form pictures in their minds but also my ability to read aloud.
Of course, reading aloud is not only for chapter books. We enjoy many different picture books, too. Some current favorites are the Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook, Curious George, and Mad About Madeline. My daughters can’t get enough of that curious little monkey, and I’ve read our collection at least twice in the past two weeks. And Madeline is always a hit. *smile*
Reading aloud is a skill, and it’s an important one. As we read aloud, we model how the English language sounds. We model the cadence and the rhythm of our language. We introduce new words, new thoughts, new ideas, and new places. Even if reading aloud doesn’t come naturally to you (it certainly didn’t to me!), the benefits and the memories are worth it.