Read Out Loud

You Know Your Read Out Loud Time Is Great When:

Hubby says: “If you read out loud in the kitchen I’ll make dinner”Your kids launch a flashlight search after you announce “I have to stop reading. It’s too dark and the overhead light distracts Daddy driving”. No one wants to go to sleep, but beg for one more chapter.

Why read out loud today and every day? 

It builds the vocabulary that makes or breaks successful reading.  

This fact really nailed down the role of vocabulary for me: It is not only about comprehension its an attack skill. (An attack skill means that it comes at the very start of the reading process.  Comprehension is the overall result of all kinds of good input)

Consider this: Your child sees a less common word ie v a c a n t. They put their sounds to use and pronounce /VA kant/.  If they have never heard the word how will they know they are done?  No bell will go off in their brain. 

Without vocabulary the aha moment of “Oh that’s the word. I get it!” never comes. 

Reading out loud is the best way to teach vocabulary.

There is vocabulary.  Then there is so much more.  You only have so much time with your child.  Pack as much in as you can!

 Out of all the activity time spent with my children, this has been the most rewarding 

Reading good books out loud feeds the heart and mind.  It is together time.  It is enjoying the outdoors, the spot in front of the fire place or a few quiet moments.  It builds imagination and sparks conversation.  It is like a shared retreat to another place. 

Reading out loud teaches:

  • listening,
  • speaking patterns, and
  • vocabulary.

These are not test categories.  These are the very fabric of relationship. Reading out loud builds both thoughts and the tools for sharing them.  Watch your children play after reading say . . . Swiss Family Robinson. It’s enough to bring on happy Momma tears!

You will be peaking in on adventure and imagination as it unfolds in this pivotal part of their lives.

What to read out loud ?

Some favorite early reader books:

For longer chapter books:

The hands down winner is . . . Swiss Family Robinson (we have an ancient copy with a second ending and no giant snake).

Runners up are:

Martin Rattler

Giant of the North

Both of these stories are written by “Ballentine the Brave” and have action scenes appropriate for young readers.  Martin Rattler is set in the Amazon while the Giant of the North takes place in an artic region.  A few outdated terms require editing on the fly. 

Carry On Mr. Bowdich 

I sailed to Europe in a tall ship (in my younger days 🙂  and we still used Bowdich publications for nautical navigation.

The Giant Killer

(Giants are negative character traits). This is an 1800’s book.  It’s intent is preachy but the stories are not.  It is good to read at intervals.  One trait for each sitting.  

An out of print series that is worthwhile if you can find them:

Anne Bradsteet, Young Puritan Poet

Noah Webster, Boy of Words

Clara Barton, Girl Nurse and

William Bradford, Pilgrim Boy

These illustrated chapter books cover the childhoods of famous people. Yet the content is anything but childish.  It comes from primary sources.  Ann Bradstreet and Noah Webster are the most entertaining. 

I am not big on fantasy, but my husband has worn out The Chronicles of Narnia reading them out loud. I broke down and read almost all of The Hobbit on a drive up the East Coast.

More read out louds:

Little House On the Prairie Series (The whole thing at least twice). We have found hardbacks of Laura Ingalls books at book fairs. Very worth the price!

Journey to the Center of the Earth. You can get an Illustrated Classic coloring book to go with it. The drawings are really good!

Still More:  some famous, some less well known:

Heidi, I wrote about I learned from Heidi on what I estimate to be the 32nd reread.  You can find the piece and lots more on The Progress Report

Sailing Alone Around The World  Joshua Slocum’s real life story of doing just as the title says!  I read this book first in college, though it is not a challenging read.  It was the come-to-life part of  nautical literature.  My professor brought in a guitar and sang sea shanties for us at the last discussion. 

It makes you want to head to sea: )

Around The World In 80 Days Classic fiction (not related to the sailing book).

Neither my husband nor I had read this growing up so we were just as surprised with the plot twists and turns as the children.

Robinson Crusoe.

Classic story of survival on a deserted island.  I was surprised to find that there is a lot of story before the shipwreck and a strong lesson is part of the novel.  

There are many, many other good books. I defined favorites as: books we have read start to finish, at least twice with great attention.

I have gotten a lot of ideas from “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle” and “Lives In Print ” for longer read-out-louds. Both of these pamphlets can be found at I take copies of them to the book store.

How To Read Out Loud, Make It Happen In Your House

When getting ready to read a chapter book out loud I give everyone ten minutes lead time. This is to get “something to do with their hands” and meet me in a designated space. If I am reading picture books I just grab 1 or 2 and start. I normally have an idea of which one I want to read first.

I don’t often take requests as it usually burns up the whole reading time with discussion. Uhm, we really are talkers : ). Of course, if a little person reaches up to hand a book to me that they already took off the shelf, I will try to read it as soon as I can. Sometimes we can just recite it together!

When I read out loud, I do answer questions as they come up. When questions get to be an interruption I limit them to the end of the chapter. Normally, we both forget about them !

I do some narration with my children, but most often judge comprehension by their comments and what I see imitated in their play. (Narration is when you ask a child to repeat part of what happened in a story you read out loud using their own words). I think narration is great. I found it worked best in the morning with sharp minds all around. This does not happen often.

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