The Magical World of Read-Aloud: Make It a Habit

Previously posted on September 19, 2016

I began reading aloud to our children when they were inside my womb. And since I was pregnant every 2 years for 8 long years, there was a lot of reading going on and whether you were around me or inside me!!!! You see, our eldest son loved bedtime and yes, nap time stories! We began exposing him to giant 8×10 photos of faces at a few weeks old, board books at 2 months, giant picture books when he could sit at 6 months and books with simple plots around 10 months or so.

Oh my, we have memorized so many books because there were all time favorite ones that had to be read again and again. “We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re gonna catch a big one, I am not scared! ” “A told B and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree,” “And I’ll huff, and I puff, and I’ll blow your house down,” “Pip-pero-pembo-rosa-rembo, char-bari, ruchi-pip peri-pembo!” “…. The spider didn’t answer. She was very busy spinning her web.” “I do not like them in a house. I do not like them with a mouse. I do not like them here or there. I do not like them anywhere.” and so many more lines!!!

So, when our eldest was around 15 months, I was pregnant with our 2nd who most likely enjoyed the daily, and yes, twice daily bonding of stories through books our eldest would pile up when it was time for nap/bedtime. And somehow that was our story, for the coming babies and toddlers.

It has been 18 years since I started reading to our children, and yes, I am still at it with our 2 youngest children for bedtime. I am thankful that homeschooling all of them has made READING A LOUD a given, something that’s all part of a day’s work. But reading a loud never seemed work really, it was really precious bonding where adventures happen, questions are asked, minds are opened, hearts are aligned, and imaginations are ignited. I can still hear the giggles, the shrieks of suspense, and loads of laughter as I try to recall the amazing books we have shared together as a family. I can still remember how imagination and humor have tweaked certain stories eventually turning them to laughing sessions! Yes, laughing until your eyes start to tear—those were precious times indeed.

There are so many articles out there. Evidence abounds.  You can search or read a few here. Experts say it only takes 15 minutes of Reading Aloud a day to make a world of difference.

So, please, while your children are young, carve out that time and make it a habit. You’ll never ever regret it; this I can promise.

Here are some simple tips to make reading a loud a habit:

  • Start them young. Yes, while at the womb and just keep books around, available and accessible for every stage of their growing years.
  • Choose good books. From board to picture books, from Bible storybooks to actual chapters from a book of the Bible, from simple stories with rhythm and rhyme to simple storybooks, from short stories to chapter books, from short novels to biographies, there are thousands of titles to choose from. You can check this list. Try to include local materia l like the stories from Adarna House, OMF, or Tahanan Books. Some of our favorites were: “Chenelyn, Chenelyn, Putot, Ay! May Bukbok ang Ngipin ni Ani!” For young ones, avoid those books with characters they see on TV or on gadgets.
  • Establish a routine that best suits your schedule. It takes two to Read-A-Loud. It will only work if both the reader and the “reedee” (ha,ha , invented my word there!) are both available and up to it. Parents can take turns. Bedtime seems best but if breakfast is more doable, then make that your daily habit. If daily is not possible, then aim for maybe 3x a week. Make up on weekends! For as long at it is happening, then that is good. Consistency and sustainability are important to maximize the countless blessings of this habit.
  • Turn off all gadgets during READ-A-LOUD time, yes, including the reader’s phone. Or make a “no gadget rule for bedtime!”
  •  With older kids and chapter books, you can assign portions to be read by your child. And for a shared experience, do not read ahead. Discover the book with your children.
  • Try to “live” the story. Change tone or type of voice depending on who is speaking. Adjust your “reading” depending on the mood of the story.
  • Be affectionate and show how eager you are to bond. Do lots of hugging, tickling and hugging!
  • Do book exchange with a group of friends (but don’t rush to exchange the book that your child is attached to, okay?) so you don’t have to spend.

All four children read on their own now. Though, I am still get to read to my younger children (ages 13 and 11), I know these precious days when I can still have their complete attention are numbered. So, here I am sharing with you to encourage you to pick up that book, let the other things on your to do list, wait and read-a-loud.

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.”

Proverbs 18: 15

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