One of the best ways our family encouraged a love of learning was to start our day with read aloud books. As far as I’m concerned, reading aloud each morning was the most important part of our homeschooling day.
Why did I “start” our day with read aloud books?
Although I had been reading to my kids since they were born, we struggled our first year in finding a good time to reading aloud as a family.
During our first year of homeschooling, I planned our schedule so I would read aloud after lunch. Sometimes, the kids were still eating & finishing lunch. I don’t know about you, but after lunch might not have been the best choice.
As I read along after lunch, you might guess what happened. I got tired & sleepy, dozing off as I read. I had to ask one of my daughters to finish reading that day.
That’s not the example I wanted to set. I didn’t want to give my kids the impression that reading puts you to sleep or I didn’t like reading. I had to make a change.
The very next year, we started our day with a read aloud book. Boy, did I hear it.
“I won’t finish my math if we read first”
“I need to work on my project”
“I’ll never complete all my schoolwork”
I stood firm the first year and my kids slowly adjusted to our new schedule. Each morning we started with an hour of Family Time which included at least half an hour of reading aloud together.
I soon realized that whatever you do first thing in the morning is what’s most important to you. You do it first because you want to be sure you get it done.
For what it’s worth, my kids didn’t sit on the couch like perfect angels during read aloud time. Sometimes they folded laundry. Sometimes they played with Legos. Sometimes they drew in their journal. When their hands were busy, they listened better. What else helped our read aloud time?
How can you Encourage a Love of Learning
with Read Aloud Books?
- Use voices & inflection . . . make it enjoyable & fun!
- Don’t make your kids sit still on the couch.
- Don’t use read aloud books to teach …ENJOY the books
- Share your favorite parts about the book you’re reading, but don’t force your kids do the same. Let them voluntarily share.
- Don’t stop in the middle of your read aloud time to analyze or discuss vocabulary or other literary items … Enjoy!
- Read books your “children” are interested in. Rotate topics if necessary.
- Don’t stop reading when your child can read independently. Keep reading through high school. We did!
- Read every day.
- Read books with age-appropriate topics, but possibly above your kids’ independent reading level.
In the morning, I read to our kids. After dinner, Steve read to our kids. Since evenings sometimes had other activities, we were not as consistent with reading aloud. But overall, we read a few evenings a week. We did not stop reading when our kids could read by themselves.
I still remember Steve reading to our kids when Ashley was in college, Gentry was in high school and Hunter was in junior high. Although it took several years, Steve read through the Little Britches series, one of our family favorites.
Did our Kids “Get Anything” from Read Aloud Books?
One time in our van, I heard the kids laughing about a scene from Little Britches. They were laughing about the crotchety old grandpa and how they would never want to have a grandpa like that. That’s when I knew our read aloud books were having an impact on our kids.
No formal discussion.
No questions from Mom.
Just informal fun in the van talking about one of our read aloud books.
In the morning times, I also remember reading to Gentry & Hunter when they were both in high school. Ashley was in classes, but I still read to Gentry & Hunter even though they were teens. It was one of our favorite bonding times.
And it continues today … Ashley & Jesse read aloud to their daughters. Gentry & Andrew reads to their 3 month-old daughter.
Which read aloud books should you choose? Let me share six of our family favorites.
- Little Britches series – Everyone in the family includes this in their top 10 read alouds.
- Swiss Family Robinson
- Johnny Tremain
- Where the Red Fern Grows
- The Hiding Place
- Jotham’s Journey – Advent book we loved so much, we read it multiple years.
When our kids finished homeschooling, I asked them to list their top 10 read aloud books. Gentry is the only one who stayed at 10 books, even though she was my biggest reader growing up.
If you would like our family’s favorite “33 Read Aloud Books List”, enter your name & email below. We will email it to you.
What is your favorite family read aloud book? Leave a comment below.