5 Tips for a More Engaging Read-Aloud Experience
Reading aloud to children is one of the greatest things you can do for them . . . and you! This is a time of bonding and fun and excitement around books and stories and reading, but not if you read it like you’re falling asleep.
Or like you’re bored out of your brains.
Or like your voice only has one tone, one volume and one blah blah blah!
So how can we raise the value of reading a story to children? Well, read on. . .
1. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! Yep, as hard as it is for some of us to realise, this is not about us. It’s about the kids themselves or, at the very least, us AND the kids. So if you’re reading but are thinking about work that day, or something that happened while you were driving home? Hopeless!
If you’re reading it with no interest in how it’s coming across? Hopeless!
If you read it how you think you would like it? Not bad, but still not great!
You know your child. You know children. Read it how you think THEY would like it, and that’s a great start!
2. BE INTERESTED, AND YOU’LL BE INTERESTING! Yep, if you think it’s a terrible story and you hate reading it for the 37th time, that is going to come across. But you have a choice. Every single time, with every single story. If your child gets a book with enthusiasm and delight, and you mirror that, reading it as though it’s the first time you ever heard it, THAT will come across as well!
Is it a boring story, or a fun story and experience with a child? You always have a choice. And imagine what a difference it will make to you if you approach it this way?
3. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU LIKE. I know I said it’s not about you, and reading it how you would like it, sure sure, yeah I know, but think about what you like in general!
Do you retain more when someone is interesting, or when they’re monotone and boring?
Do you listen on the edge of your seat if the person talking looks like they’re bored, or like they’re engaged?
Do you learn more from a teacher who is enthusiastic about the subject, or who looks like and acts like they are teaching it for the 37th time?
4. MAKE IT INTERACTIVE! This isn’t always easy, depending on the story itself, and you don’t necessarily want to break the rhythm, but especially with picture books, there are lots of ways you can do this!
You can stop at the end of the page and discuss the pictures. What’s there that isn’t in the words? Are the pictures telling the exact same story or is there another story in there.
Stop at the end of a page and ask the child how they are feeling about what happened. Or ask what they think the character may be feeling. Even young children can surprise you here with the depth of their answers.
Let kids interrupt and point out things they see! Don’t be frustrated by this, embrace it! They’re involved! This means you’re doing a great job! And you can always set a ground rule that the first read through is a straight read through . . . but then you can read it again and stop and pause and interrupt and interact.
5. BE ENERGISED. A lot of people freak out about this one! “I don’t want to have to jump around and do voices!” And that is fair enough, too. If you can do those things, that’s awesome, but energy isn’t always about jumping around and being hyper. Energy when reading aloud can be reducing your voice to a whisper in a tense or sad section. It can be reading with rhythm and cadence. It can be taking the time to look at the children reading, or the camera. It’s connection. It's heart. It’s joy. It’s sadness.
Do what’s comfortable for you, but do it with energy.
So there you go! Some tips on reading aloud that may bring more joy to your listeners, and in doing so, bring more joy to you as well. Have fun, and keep reading!
About the Author
Adam Wallace is a New York Times best-selling author of over 100 books including the How to Catch series, 24 Absolutely, Totally True Facts About Penguins, Invisible Jerry and many more! You can find Adam at adam-wallace-books.com, and on Make Momentos!