Read Aloud – Please

October 22nd, 2018 Posted by Homeschooling, Practical Parenting, Reading Recommendations 6 comments

One of the greatest blessings of homeschooling is time. Not having to rush out of the house in the morning or spend time on homework in the evening puts you in control (as much as possible) of your family’s hours. You gain all those hours that are otherwise spent on parent/teacher nights and working on projects that may not have anything to do with what you think is important.

Reading aloud was one of our family’s favorite ways to use the expanse of time at our disposal. Like many moms, I read voraciously to my toddlers and younger children. But we read aloud well after our children were themselves proficient readers. We regularly read at our Shabbat table, to the point that some of our regular guests were miffed if there was a week they weren’t invited. While they could have picked up Swallows and Amazons or The Microbe Hunters on their own, they enjoyed following along with us. Sometimes we read to the children as a group, an activity that strengthened family bonds. Other times reading was a one-on-one experience. Some of my fondest memories are sitting in front of a fireplace with my sixteen-year-old son, reading A Tale of Two Cities together. 

With this introduction, you will understand why I fell in love with The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie. The book and accompanying blog and podcast speak to my heart. While some of her recommendations are treasured friends, I don’t know many of the books that Sarah recommends. As she acknowledges, I may not even like some of them. But I am going to work my way down her booklist. The ideas she makes and encouragement she gives are valuable on their own. I’d like to share two of the points from her book that I particularly appreciated.

Sarah focuses on how to have conversations about the books we are reading. It is so easy, especially as a homeschooling mom, to want to turn reading into a lesson. Yet, if we choose our books well, we are really, as Sarah says, “…nourishing their souls, building relationships, and forging connections.”

Another point Sarah make is how listening may not look like we expect it to.  Our imagination may show us children grouped around us, gazing up at us with riveted eyes, but reality may work better with some children coloring or playing with clay as we read. What looks like inattention to us is often misleading. By choosing our books judiciously, we are planting seeds and like seeds, we may not see the fruit immediately.

I believe that one of my readers told me about Sarah’s movement, the Read-Aloud Revival, but I haven’t been able to find the comment so that I could thank her by name. Nonetheless, I am grateful. I hope that after you pick up a copy of The Read-Aloud Family, you will be too.

(If you do like what you see and purchase using the links in this post, we will receive a small commission on the purchase.)

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6 comments

Yvonne Caceres says:

Loved reading this…thank you😊

Susan Lapin says:

Hi Yvonne, I love seeing pictures of your family on Facebook. Lovely to hear from you.

Karen S Jones says:

I read to my babies as soon as they were born , and all the time after ! It became clear my youngest had dyslexia , or something , we took her for tutoring for several years , she did learn to read , but the words where not making their way into her mind . I began to read to her aloud , and she was able to understand and enjoy the books that otherwise were going to remain strangers to her. She still dislikes reading , but talks fondly of several books ! I was not aware other people did this .

Susan Lapin says:

Karen, your daughter may not like the physical act of reading because it is such a struggle, but you still gave her the gift of books. That’s wonderful.

D Beck says:

While we read out loud a lot, Saturday afternoon was the big reading time. I would pick a book and the boys, and often their friends would sit around the couches in our living room to hear what was being read. We read a variety of books from The Westing Game, and Freddy the Pig books, to A Little History of the World, and Economics in One Lesson. The kids who would listen ranged from 17 to 8. One parent called me and said, “What have you done to my daughter! When I ask what she did all afternoon she says, “We had fun reading about economics!”

Susan Lapin says:

What a great story! It’s amazing how reading a book aloud well can expose kids to subjects they might not touch on their own.

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