Instead of reading several separate books each night (and maybe double that if you have two kids), why not try a family read aloud before bed? There are a lot of positive aspects of this alternative daily/nightly reading ritual. Read on, and you just might decide to change your reading routine.
As far as you, the reader of books out loud, is concerned, a family read aloud will save you from repeating the same old stories every night. The novel length plot will also keep you more personally engaged in the story as well, making it a fun reading experience not only for your kids, but for you too. If you pick a book near your child’s reading level, you could also share the read aloud responsibilities, maybe by trading paragraphs or pages. If you choose a book above your child’s reading level, but still on a topic that interests them, you can expose them to many new vocabulary words that they would otherwise be unable to experience on their own. Also, the higher the reading level of the book, the more complex the plot structure (what is happening and why). Introducing these types of storylines and being able to explain what’s happening and why throughout the reading, will prepare your child for a higher level of understanding when they begin reading novels on their own.
Family read alouds are a great way to build in quality family time. Family dinner can get hectic (and some nights non-existent), especially with evening sports and church classes. But everyone still needs to get ready to go to bed. If your family decides to read a book together, you can guarantee yourselves 15 minutes together, enjoying a similar interest and space. For parents who are really busy, it can be that time each day, when you all still get together and snuggle up, no matter what other busy agendas you keep during the day.
Another positive aspect of family read alouds is that it automatically creates and showcases a great reading role model… YOU! If a child sees that mom and dad read each day, they are more likely to see it as a valuable tool and also as an activity to do each day. Don’t underestimate the power this simple 15 minutes can have on your children. Ready, set, read! Here are a few of my personal favorites to read aloud. Choose one (or something else to your liking) cuddle up in bed and enjoy!
- 1. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Inkheart is the story of a pre-teen girl named Meggie who hops from one town to another, sometimes in the middle of the night, with her father, Mo. One rainy night she learns that their spontaneous travels are the result of her father’s magical gift. When Mo, reads aloud, things literally come to life… they just pop out of the book! One night long ago, Mo read an evil villain into our world. And now, the malevolent Capricorn has finally found them. This amazing adventure appeals to fantasy and book lovers alike. Mythical creatures, far away and exotic locations and the battle of good vs. evil pull readers in like magic itself. German author Cornelia Funke is a dreamy weaver of tales and this one is not to be missed. (Ages 9-12/560 pages)
- 2. Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan
Former teacher Rick Riordan has created a modern classic in his Percy Jackson series. In this first enstallment, ADHD and dyslexic Percy makes some pretty amazing discoveries about his family tree that lead him to Camp Half Blood, a few new friends, and a world of adventure. This New York Times bestseller will lead readers through Greek Mythology in a new and exciting way. The series started from bedtime stories Riordan made up for his own son. So why not carry on the bedtime tradition in your own family. (Ages 9-11/366 pages)
- 3. Heat by Mike Lupica
Sports enthusiast, coach, commentator and columnist Mike Lupica has done wonders for the world of middle level books about sports. If you and your family spend more time playing sports or watching them on tv than any other hobby, this would be a great book for you. Michael Arroyo is a twelve year old wonder kid pitcher. So good, that people begin to wonder… is he too old to be playing in little league. Read and find out what is in store for Michael’s future. Social and family issues with in the book will create great discussion topics for your family too. (Ages 10-13/220 pages)
- 4. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Minnesota native and award winning author Kate DiCamillo has created a treasured work of art in the delightful tale of Despereaux, a mouse on a quest to save a princess. But how can one little mouse with “exceptionally large ears” and all odds against him conquer a dungeon of rats, and an evil scheme all in the name of love? This story is beautifully written and a joy to read out loud. Fantasy and animal lovers alike will scramble to read this tale each night. (Ages 9-12/ 272 pages)
- 5. The Limit by Kristen Landon
The Limit is a fast-paced story about a futuristic America, where families each live with a financial limit. What happens when you spend past your determined amount? Matt finds out one day in the grocery store when his mom accidentally over spends. He is almost instantly whisked away to a work house… not the kind you read about in history books. Find out what life is like at the work house (you won’t believe it!) and all the dirty secrets Matt tries to expose along the way. This book will open up some great family conversations and leave you on the edge of the bed each night, begging for more. (Ages 8-12/ 304 pages)