The Secret Ingredients of a Successful Read Aloud

Sometimes, life hits you hard and it’s all you can do to get through the day (or week, as in this case). My beloved brother-in-law passed on June 6th. He fought through a multitude of health problems over the last ten years and due to his COPD, needed oxygen regularly for the last year. When he contracted Covid, again his fighting spirit allowed him to eventually test negative for the virus and leave the hospital to return the medical center of his care facility. That, in turn, allowed him to have several personal  visits with his wife and six children. We were lucky enough to “see” him on Zoom for a few minutes. By the time of his death, we were in the “yellow phase” and able to have a limited viewing, Mass and burial for Larry. We are so grateful that he did not pass alone in the hospital.

My sister is ten years older than me and I knew Larry since I was five years old. The relationship both my husband and I had with him, was close, influential and loving in. Although we prepared for his death, it still rocked our world. Needless to say, blogging was the last thing on my mind last week. Now it’s time to return to normal, bask in our wonderful memories and live out the life lessons Larry modeled for us. 

photo of man carrying baby

Photo by nappy on

I hope everyone enjoyed the previous post by Andrea Denish. It certainly got me thinking about fostering literacy in our youngest children. Of one thing I’m certain…if you want to raise a reader, reading aloud is essential. With that thought in mind, I reached for my worn copy of Reading Magic, by Mem Fox. When it comes to promoting reading in very young children, Fox’s text is the most powerful book I know on this topic. That’s why I include a copy with every baby gift I give.

As I once again picked through the early chapters of this book, one of the concepts that stood out for me was the importance of attitude and emotion when we are reading aloud to children. Fox writes, “the fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading”. The blending of these three elements lifts the read-aloud to a new level, reeling the child in and creating a meaningful, pleasurable experience. And what happens when we experience pleasure? We want more!

Reading these words brought me back to the bedtime stories I often read to my own kids. Let me tell you, they weren’t usually the “rollicking good time” Fox mentions, complete with  discussion, laughter, appropriate pauses and noticings that Fox suggests. Although I enjoyed that time with my children, often I was tired, skipped pages if I could get away with it, and felt anxious to finish the book, kiss the little one, turn out the light and call it a day. Ever feel like that? Nevertheless, I am totally convinced (much more than I was as a young mother) of the life-changing benefits of reading aloud. Furthermore, I am convinced that kids are never too old for a read aloud. If I had it to do over again, here’s what I would do to improve the experience and eck the most out of the time I spent reading aloud:

  1. Learn more about reading aloud. Sometimes we only need to improve a little bit. A few ideas can spark confidence and transform our approach. If you have young children, Mem Fox’s book will hit the mark. If you have older children, find other blogs and books that encourage and support you.
  2. Make anytime reading time. It’s a joy to visit the home of my son and his wife. They have two boys, ages one and two. Books that the boys love are everywhere. A basket in the kitchen, more on shelves in the family room, more baskets in their bedrooms and even some in the closets upstairs. When the two- year-old shows curiosity about a subject, they find a book to quench his thirst for knowledge. Although they do read bedtime stories, reading is not relegated to bedtime. Books permeate their day. They talk about books, the boys hold up books they love when we Face Time, and even at this young age, their the kids delight in receiving a new book. My Reading teacher’s heart just knows that these boys are on the road to a lifelong love of reading.                                                                                                                  It’s summer, kids are home and “the livin is easy”. What books will you read today? How will you capitalize on the time you spend engaged in reading aloud? Psych yourself up, approach it with zest. The attitude and emotion with which you read a story will have a positive pay-off.

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About Rita K.

Educator and Certified Reading specialist
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2 Responses to The Secret Ingredients of a Successful Read Aloud

  1. Patty Foley says:

    Wow Rita! I don’t usually comment, but love all of your blogs. This one especially uplifted me. Thank you


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