Reading aloud is the practice of reading from a book out loud to an audience of one or more. By its very nature reading aloud is interactive, sensory and can be hugely exciting for everyone.
In Greek and Roman times, reading silently to yourself was frowned upon. It was very popular for people to hold gatherings where they would read aloud to their friends.
Why read aloud?
Reading books aloud can help children develop key literacy skills and help them develop a love of reading for life. A child's future is brighter when he or she has a love of reading and plenty of books to read.
When I read aloud I feel responsible for delivering the story in a way that inspires every child in front of me. I also feel a sense of duty to represent the book in a way the author and illustrator would be proud of too. We must never forget the power the gift of reading aloud well holds for our young children's futures.
Reading aloud is not the same as oral storytelling, which also helps a child's learning.
My ten steps to read aloud success are:
Props and puppets
Prepare (you and your audience)
Projection, pitch and pace
Power, pause and pose
Pages (print and pictures)
Although I've listed ten steps, I'm going to concentrate on the most important points.
I am not suggesting that we all need to be the world's greatest actors to read aloud to our children. But we do have a responsibility to deliver the telling of a book well for the benefit of every child.
When reading aloud to children we must show enthusiasm for a story. And when appropriate, we should use funny voices or pull different facial expressions. Sometimes our voices need to be as loud as thunder. Sometimes we need to be as quiet as a mouse.
Some books need to be told with the reader sitting down and some need to be read standing up and moving around. Sometimes, we want children to join in with their voices and bodies - 'Run, run as fast as you can! You can't catch me. I'm the Gingerbread Man!'
Sometimes we want them to sit still and listen quietly.
Enjoyment of reading has a direct impact on a child's success at school as well as their overall wellbeing. Being read aloud to well in an interactive way is key to developing an early enjoyment of reading.
Before you read a book, you and your children will have much more fun if you do four simple things:
Know the book - read it in advance
Choose a book that features a character your child can relate to
Like the book you are reading - your enthusiasm will be infectious!
Make sure the book is written well and suitable for being read aloud
So do ensure you are up to speed with a range of children's picture books. It will help you to read the books well and inspire your children's love of reading. Libraries, book awards and reading lists can assist you to find the perfect book for you and your child to enjoy together.
Remember, Your Voice. Their Imagination.