We all know reading aloud is a good thing to do as a family. Reading aloud bonds our family relationships as we share not only time but also stories. Stories shape the heart as well as the mind, educate the imagination and soul as well as the brain. Our children need stories. Even we as parents need stories. As Sarah Mackenzie says in The Read-Aloud Family:
If you want a child to know the truth, tell him the truth. If you want a child to love the truth, tell him a story.
So we try to cram in one more thing: reading aloud.
But when we approach reading aloud as one more thing to add to our day, we get bogged down and end up doing nothing because our grand visions of how the day should go never seem to work out.
Instead of envisioning the perfect read-aloud time, where everyone gathers around peacefully after a delicious dinner and sits enthralled as father reads in a deep baritone, we need to start where we are and simply weave reading aloud into our day-to-day lives.
Here are five ways to do just that.
5 Ways to Find Time to Read Aloud
1) Read Aloud During Meal Times
You have a captive audience around the table, an audience whose hands and mouths are already occupied. Seize the opportunity: read aloud during breakfast, lunch, or even dinner.
Your read-aloud time might only be 10 minutes, but it still counts. Ten minutes 5 days a week adds up much more quickly than thirty minutes every once in a while.
2) Morning Time
Many families start off their homeschool day with Morning Time, Circle Time, Morning Basket, Bible Time – whatever you call it, it’s the perfect opportunity to work in some read-aloud time.
And don’t forget to include reading the Bible aloud as a family as read-aloud time. Too often we get a narrow perspective on what we “should” be doing and neglect to notice how we’re already doing it. If your together homeschool time includes a Bible storybook or Scripture reading, you’re already reading aloud together as a family. Good job!
3) Audio Books
Another way to get in shared stories is often not counted: audiobooks. Whether it’s in the car, during meals, during craft time, or even chore time, audiobooks are a great way to share a story as a family.
Audiobook narrators are often trained voice actors, so they perform accents, different voices, and sometimes even break into song! If there’s a book you’d like to share as a family but you have a hard time reading aloud, try it as an audiobook. Audiobooks count as read-aloud time.
The bedtime story is cliché, but that’s because it’s such a sweet and special time to share. Even if it’s just a single poem or one board book, connecting over a story at bedtime is a great way to wrap up the day together.
One avenue to work in more read-aloud time that is too often forgotten is to delegate the reading aloud! Audiobooks are not the only way to delegate, either.
We should give our kids opportunities to be the ones reading aloud. When they read a picture book or story – even one well below their reading level – to a younger sibling, those siblings are not only sharing a special bond, the reader is gaining confidence and fluency in both reading and speaking.
Listening in on our children reading aloud allows us to notice and diagnose troubles they might be having that we wouldn’t notice if they’ve become silent readers.
Reading aloud is good for both the reader and the listener. Don’t feel like you have to be the one reading in order to get the benefits! Share the wealth. Assign some sibling reading time to give the toddler extra picture book time and the older child extra reading practice. Ask the children to take turns reading a Psalm or Proverb each morning. Have a child read aloud to you in the car.
Make sharing books a way of life by weaving it into the nooks and crannies and by counting all the unconventional ways it happens in your family. Don’t set up an ideal and beat yourself up trying to reach it. Perfectionism hinders progress, but simple practice will get us farther than we imagined possible.
Today, simply pick up a book (or hit play on an audiobook!) and share a story as a family.
About the Author
Mystie and her husband, Matt, have five children whom they educate classically, seeking to cultivate wisdom and virtue in themselves as well as their children, through discipleship in a simple life full of Truth, Goodness, Beauty – and a lot of books. Mystie blogs at Simply Convivial.