Creative Ways to Read-Aloud with your Child
By Munia Ahmed
Before we think about creative ways to read aloud with your child, let us first talk about how reading can help our children. According to research, reading
helps children get to know sounds, words and language, and develop early literacy skills
helps children learn to value books and stories
sparks children’s imagination and stimulate curiosity
aids in brain development as well as social and communication skills
“Surrounding kids with books at an early age gets them hooked,”
says Alice Sterling Honig, Ph.D., a child development expert at Syracuse University, in New York.
As parents, we all want our children to be avid readers, because we know reading opens many doors; to creativity, language development and proficiency and the one in most of our minds, formal school readiness. In this fast paced world with parents’ full time work commitments and other chores to finish on a daily basis, we must not let it overshadow the joy of this wonderful shared activity of reading together with our children.
Apart from the ones listed above, there are many benefits of reading. When we read to our child, they develop an appetite for knowledge, they also get interested in the habit of reading, which will help them elevate their thinking and questioning abilities. Reading will help children develop background knowledge of a variety of subjects and will also help them develop keen insights.
Books bring out our emotions. It makes us laugh, smile and cry. When we sit down on our favourite couch or bed with a book, we transport ourselves to faraway lands, where time freezes, the book comes alive and you become a part of that story.
Here are 8 creative ways to read aloud with your child
Create a cosy book corner: Pick a spot. The corner of your child's room, playroom or living room are all ideal places to start! Make it cosy, stack of books, cushions, rugs, stuffed toys and drape will all add up to make your child want to hang out more in that place. You can do this with your child by following Shannen's guide here.
Pick a great book: Pick both familiar and unfamiliar books to read aloud to your child. Keep an eye to your child’s liking before deciding and picking on a book. There is a sense of satisfaction in knowing, “Oh, I know this” or “what will happen next”. Project your voice according to the need of the book. Using your voice to captivate, persuade and catch attention.
Create the atmosphere for reading: After deciding on a book, it would be great if you could give attention to the environment and connect it to the theme of the book as much as possible. For example, suspenseful or books set up for night time can be read in dark places with a flashlight or an adventure story outside in the garden with our picnic mat.
Vary your voice as you read to your child: Remember that you are reading to your child and not to furniture. Most children’s books are just crying out for expression. Don’t resist it, go with it. Vary your volume, use different voices for different characters. Make the characters sound old, young, or silly. If it says ‘she shouted’ - then shout. If a monster is supposed to be scary - roar like there is no tomorrow.
As parents, we may not be as expressive as theatre actors or preschools teachers, but we can learn to be better! Here is a site where you can access free audiobooks and listen to how stories are being shared. Hopefully you will be inspired!
Add a soundtrack: Add a little magic to the books you love to read. Take clues from the text and add some sound effect. Like the book “Going on a Bear Hunt” - swishy swashy, swishy swashy, or for a car racing zoom zoom. You may also consider playing light background music to set up the mood for reading.
Use props for storytelling: Storytelling can be enriched with the use of props, bringing a different kind of charm for children. Using props can help create awareness, capture attention, making children feel, hear and imagine the story. Props can be as simple as balloons, puppets, scarves, chopsticks, anything that has to do with anything in the story. We can be even more creative by creating a background for the story. We can create an entire landscape with blankets and cushions or we can just draw a nice big picture to act as a backdrop.
Bring a book to life: Make the book come to life by doing activities inspired by the book. Your child can build structures inspired by the book or create and draw out the story. We can also go out on trips inspired by the book, for example visit a farm after reading “Three Little Pigs”, or visit the planetarium after reading a book on “Stars and Galaxies”. Have a Theater evening; invite friends and family to an evening of drama where you and your children showcase acting out the story, use of props can enhance this experience. Make or bake treats mentioned in some stories.