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I have a little secret for you…it’s the number one thing you can do for your child’s education, and it’s easier than you think! Are you ready for it?
Read aloud to them! Every day. That’s it! Research says it’s what has the biggest impact on reading and learning – it’s not flash cards, not websites, not expensive tutors or programming. Just surround your child with books and read, read, read. How EASY is that? And it’s never too early (or too late!) to start. Newborns love the sound of your voice (and the vibration of it when they’re cuddled up against you), so why not make it a habit from day one? Soon, your baby will associate reading with love, and that’s the biggest thing about reading success – they need to love it to keep doing it!
When my kids were little, I made it a rule that I would never say “No” to reading. No matter what I was doing, if one of them asked me to read a book, I would do it. I love to read, so that felt natural to me. I also know plenty of people who don’t love to read, and that might be you too.
But let’s be honest: how many things do you do for your children every day that you don’t really like? Changing diapers, cleaning up messes, managing tantrums, creatively convincing them to eat vegetables, you know…all that fun stuff. We’re constantly doing things we don’t necessarily like because our kids are worth it. So why draw the line at reading to them when it has so many AMAZING benefits?
More than once, I’ve heard someone say, “I’m not good at it.” But I promise you…your kids don’t care! They will love the way you read to them – no matter what.
Let me tell you a little story about something I’m terrible at: singing. I’m so bad, in fact, that once upon a time, I was singing to our daughter in the car to make her stop crying and my (dear, sweet) husband said that he would rather listen to her cry than to me singing. And he was serious! Anyways, there’s the proof that I’m really bad at singing. But both of my kids still went through a phase where they wanted me to sing to them every night before bed. I know it wasn’t because they liked my voice – it was because I was singing their favorite songs and they associated those moments with love. Ask them now if I can sing: nope! Ask them if they remember how I sang to them when they were little: yep! And they get all sentimental and nostalgic about it too.
Reading has that same power: you don’t have to be good at it to make it important to them. Plus, the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Check out this great blog post for 45 ways to make reading aloud fun! You’ll be laughing and giggling and loving reading aloud in no time!
And, if you’re not sure WHAT to read, here are some of my favorites. Go ahead and grab them now on Amazon to start building your child’s library! Just click on the title or image to take you there.
10 Read-Alouds My Own Kids Loved:
Some of them are classics, some you’ve probably never heard of before. But they all have (at least) one thing in common: they’re books that my kids asked me and my husband to read over and over. And over again. And that’s a good thing! There are so many benefits to reading books more than once. Bonus for parents: if you’re not confident in your read-aloud abilities, you’ll get really good at it when memorize it!
Here they are (in no particular order):
Silly words, fun pictures, and well, it’s Dr. Seuss! Plus it’s an alphabet book. As a parent, I *loved* alphabet books because they add an extra bit of learning…it makes it super easy to talk about letters and their sounds.
Before I had kids, I often heard that people would cry over this book and I just did not get it. Then one day, as my daughter was sitting in my lap, I read it to her for the first time. And I totally burst into tears. There’s something so powerful in this simple book…so make sure you have the tissue box handy!
Charlie and Lola are an adorable brother and sister team who are always up to some silly antics. They became a cartoon series when my kids were a little older, but we loved the books first! This one was our favorite…it inspired us to make a game of coming up with our own imaginative names for our less-than-favorite foods. If you have picky eater, this one’s perfect for you!
This one is a classic, and with good reason. Your kids will love making the sound effects, and they can even act out the story as you read! Who says they have to sit still while you read?
This is an excellent non-fiction book. I have a video of my son at about 1 1/2, squatting in that adorable way toddlers do, pointing to each of the tails in the book asking, “Dat one?” and me telling him the name of the animal. It was his preferred way to pass time for quite awhile!
I used to read this book to my kids all the time, and then it ended up in my classroom library. I found it the other day and I literally hugged it. We loved reading the rhyming verse and the pictures are just too cute!
I’m pretty sure this book was the original interactive book. It’s so much fun because the kids have to do all these things to try to stop the monster from coming out of the book. And despite the fact that my kids knew how it ended, they were full of anticipation to get to the end. This is a great one for getting kids excited about reading!
I think sometimes adults forget that poetry is perfect for kids! And Shel Silverstein’s poetry is so silly that it’s hard for them to resist. The pictures are simple with no color, but somehow still entertaining for little ones.
Honestly? I could have made this entire list out of Dr. Seuss books…he’s my absolute favorite author. This one is great because kids love hearing their parents making silly noises, and because they love to join in too!
I found this in the dollar section at Target a long time ago and I was delighted to see that it was still available from the publisher on Amazon! I never have high expectations for books in the dollar section, but my kids and I were smitten with this one – it’s so well-written and silly. I mean, what kid doesn’t love a book that involves ketchup socks and meatloaf shoes?
10 more books that my kindergarten students loved:
These are books that I discovered as a teacher, but they’re also great for at-home read-alouds. They’re a mix of fun and educational, and your kids are sure to love them as much as my students did! Again, in no particular order:
Hands-down the most hilarious book on the planet! You do have to be comfortable with making weird sounds and saying ridiculous things, but it is SO worth it to hear your kids’ howls of laughter. And it teaches an important concept: the pictures in books might be fun, but the words can be fun too!
These nonfiction books are super engaging! They get kids learning about animals while imagining what it would be like to have different animal parts. Who doesn’t like to pretend they’re something else? I also love that at the end of each book, it explains that people have exactly the hair/teeth/feet/etc that they need to get around in the world.
This is one of those books that I wasn’t expecting much from, but it’s so clever! The animals are trying to gather ingredients for a birthday cake by asking others for them…but what each animal gives is not what you would expect!
In this alphabet book, something has gone awry! Moose really wants to be in it…will he find a way? My kindergartners always love the silliness of this book, plus it’s a good one for talking about empathy when Moose’s feelings get hurt.
This fun story is about a squirrel who’s afraid of everything, but then he accidentally learns how to be just a little bit brave. There are several more books in the series that my students also loved, but you can’t beat the original.
This book is entirely made up of blades of grass speaking to each other. There aren’t many words, but their speech is really expressive…plus you get to try out a bunch of different voices! Even if you don’t do different voices, your kids will love having you read this book to them.
I don’t know if you’re seeing a theme here…but silly is the name of the game! I mean, what better way to get kids excited about reading than by showing them how much fun it is? This book is (obviously) a rhyming book with a hilarious ending that your kids will want you to read over and over again.
Kids will get a kick out of all the different things Floyd uses to try to get his kite out of the tree. It quickly takes a turn for the fantastical when things don’t go as planned! My kindergarten students would always end up yelling at Floyd, telling him what to do instead of what he actually does…
There aren’t many words here, so this is a quick read and the pictures really carry the story. At the end, your kids will be left to decide what really happened.
This was a classroom favorite and also one of my kids’ favorites. And personally, I’ve always loved reading the dialogue in my best (though probably terrible) pirate voice. Plus, I would get the kids interacting by having them play the “pirate crew” that repeats the last few words of everything the captain says. So fun!
Now, go READ!
Reading aloud to your kids benefits them in so many ways, and now you even have a list of fun books to get you started!
In a nutshell, if you only do one thing to set your child up for success in school, it’s simple: READ! Of course, there are tons of other fun ways to incorporate learning into your child’s daily life, and that’s the whole reason for this blog. Keep coming back to discover more ideas…but for now, pick up a book or two, gather your kids, and read with them!