As soon as my son was old enough to sit up I began reading to him. We started with the Carl books. Remember those? The wordless picture books featuring Carl, the gentle Rottweiler. I would create stories using the amazing pictures. Although Carl remained “Carl”. there was always a “Boy” somewhere in the story. Calvin adored the books!
Soon we graduated to Dr. Seuss. He especially LOVED Fox in Socks. As Gabby and Bella joined our family, the reading times continued. I could easily spend 30-45 minutes reading various stories to the children. When I felt confident enough we headed to the library. What began was a weekly ritual of momma trying to convince three crazy book-lovers that we could NOT take home the entire library to read.
Once the children began to read on their own the reading times became less prolific. Now we read chapter books. Our family laughed our way through Roald Dahl’s whimsical stories. We loved the adventures of Super Fudge, the world’s most annoying brother. We even enjoyed the adventures of a Veterinarian named James Herriot. I began to cherish those last lingering moments when my children would crawl into bed, freshly brushed-teeth, entourage in tow, and snuggle while we transported to a world inside the pages. Sadly, the nighttime ritual has been replaced by their own reading as they drift into sleep-land.
But then I discovered that my children could still benefit from momma’s read-aloud times. Yes, even the 15-year-old…
To model proper use of voice. Through daily reading I am able to show my children how voice conveys the author’s meaning. I often mimic accents, which can be quite comical. I am also known for becoming louder or quieter depending upon the mood of the scene. As they move into more complex, difficult literature I believe it important that I continue to model reading to them.
To impart familial and spiritual values. I do not believe in sheltering my children from every idea or thought that I find offensive to our family values. This is especially true in the areas of science, history, religion, morality and politics. I discovered that when I began to assign reading portions to my children I lost those organic opportunities to discuss other ideas, opinions or beliefs. Most importantly, I lost the opportunity to show them how to filter everything through the truth of God’s word.
To spend time together. The thought that my years as the primary influence of my children’s hearts and minds makes me cry. Just as I enjoyed those tender early years of reading together, I enjoy the moments we read together now. Sure, the words are complex, the ideas challenging, the times longer. The moments spent reading a paragraph and seeing them make the connection to their own lives is worth every word. Every moment of sore throat. Every second of my time. This time is priceless.
To introduce new ideas. It may be because we homeschool, but my children listen to me when I read. They become responsive, reflective and engaged. I have tried discussing issues that are important to our family and the response is dead. Flat. No engagement. I might as well have said the sky was purple. However, if I bring a book and start reading, the response is awesome. Even subjects I think they are not going to receive surprise me. Often I find them asking “read the next chapter”. It’s been a blessing!
To instill a love of reading. As soon as I could read I always had my nose in a book. It was the one thing I wanted my children to inherit from me. Although I succeeded during those precious early years, now is not the time to quit. Ultimately, I have taught them to read so that they may think for themselves. To make their own decisions. To not be led by those who would use them, abuse them and damage them. To be able to discern the truth of the Word of God. Always reading, always learning, always growing.
The journey has been a long one. Countless trips to the library. Hundreds of dollars in late fees. Thousands of hours making worlds come alive through my voice. It will continue until each one grows and leaves my home. Then I’ll begin again when the grandchildren come.
Resources for Reading Aloud to Children
- Everyday Language Learner: Using Wordless Books
- Hip Homeschool Moms: 5 Benefits of Reading Aloud
- Sally Clarkson – How to Read Aloud To Your Children
What about you? Do you still read to your middle & senior high age learners?