Tips to Rock Your Read Aloud: Get the Most Out of Every Book

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Written by; Vicki Rogers Wilkinson

Rock Your Read Aloud


Reading aloud to kids is one of the best ways to encourage them to become lifelong readers. From the very beginning of life, providing kids with books and the opportunity to share them together can create a love of reading. I started reading to my daughter on her very first night home from the hospital (a tradition started by my parents). I read her a one-minute fairy tale from the same book my parents read to me on my first night. She was sleeping and will have no memory of it, but it was the start of our nightly read aloud time; a tradition that she now loves at the age of 20 months.


The benefits of reading aloud to your kids are plentiful. Besides teaching them that reading is important and fun, it also provides you with a set amount of time together where the troubles of the day don’t matter. Shut off the electronics, curl up on a chair or bed and dive into new worlds together. Whether you have a toddler who is just discovering books, or a middle-schooler who already knows how to read, reading aloud together is a great way to bond as a family. There are so many easy ways that you can boost your read aloud to guide your kids toward becoming great readers themselves. You may already be modeling reading strategies for your kids and not even know it! These strategies will help them when it is their turn to read. This can be as simple as asking them questions or looking at the pictures together.


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Ask Questions

Asking your child questions while you read is an easy way to get kids into the book, while also modeling an important reading strategy. Good readers ask themselves questions while they read, which help them to interact with the story and gain a better understanding of it. As you read aloud to your child, ask them questions to make them think about what you are reading. This also gives you an opportunity to have a conversation with your kids about their thoughts and feelings on certain subjects.


Check Out the Illustrations

There are some amazing picture book illustrators out there doing remarkable work with different styles and mediums. When you read aloud with your child, take note of the illustrations and talk about what they see. My daughter loves to point out familiar objects while I am reading to her. I love this because sometimes she says words I didn’t even realize she knew yet! If you have a child who is creative and artistic, sharing your interest in the illustrations may encourage their creative side. Preview a new book together by flipping through and looking at the illustrations first. Without reading the story yet, do they think they know what the book is about? This skill of previewing and predicting is another important reading strategy.


Wordless picture books are another fun way to encourage your child’s creativity. While you can’t “read aloud” a wordless book, you can use the illustrations to create your own dialogue and story. Having kids use the pictures to tell the story encourages them to think about story elements and use their imagination to fill in the blanks.



We all have those books that our kids love to read over and over again. (I’m looking at you Llama Llama Red Pajama). While you may want to roll your eyes when your child takes it off of the shelf, it is actually a good thing! Beyond the fact that it means your child enjoys the book, it also helps them to hear the same book repeated to them. While you are rereading the story, they are picking up new vocabulary words and learning the rhythm of the language. The more times you read a story, the more they may understand the plot each time. Just as you have probably memorized the words,  they are memorizing it as well. This increases their confidence in their understanding of books and encourages them to want to read it as well!


Let Your Child Lead

It is true that reading aloud with your kids may not always be easy. You may get frustrated when they want to get up and down off your lap, or switch books after a few pages, or seem like they aren’t listening at all. This is all okay. Your read aloud time doesn’t have to fit any certain mold. You don’t have to sit down and read one book all the way through while using these reading strategies and discussing the story.


My daughter is almost 2. Some nights our read aloud time involves her standing next to the chair or in the crib, and me reading the first 3 pages out of 5 different books before she decides to let me finish one. And that is okay! She will grow up remembering that we had reading time every night and that we enjoyed reading different books together. Don’t force a “perfect” read aloud time. It will just end up frustrating everyone, and that is not the point. Reading should be fun and this is your chance to teach that to your kids!


Share the Reading

As your kids get older and start to read on their own, you can share the read aloud responsibility. I remember when I was starting to read and I was able to bring home a book from school and read it to my parents during read aloud. I was so thrilled and proud of myself. Letting your child read to you, or read with you, encourages them to read and increases that bond! Change up your read aloud depending on your child’s interests and reading level. Try reading a chapter or two of a chapter book every night. By continuing to read aloud to your kids even as they start to read themselves, you can introduce them to new books at a slightly higher reading level. This can increase their vocabulary and comprehension, and help them to reach that next level.


When they get to a stage where they don’t want to read aloud with you (I’m hoping this day never comes!), suggest maybe reading a book or a series together. While you may be reading it separately, you can discuss the book together and keep developing the relationship and the love of reading.


Bring Books to Life

My goal in starting to write about children’s books was to help bring books to life for kids and encourage a new generation of bookworms. There are so many fun and easy ways to bring reading alive at the end of a book. Do a craft or create a yummy snack inspired by the book. Learn a new skill together. Go on an adventure like your favorite characters. I love taking a new book and seeing how I can use it to increase my daughter’s knowledge of the world and provide her with new memories and experiences. I hope you and your kids see reading as a way to enhance your lives, and I hope it starts with some great read-alouds! to rock your read aloud

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26 thoughts on “Tips to Rock Your Read Aloud: Get the Most Out of Every Book

  1. I LOVE Vicki’s blog, and I love this post!!! So many great ideas! I’ve gotten WAY more comfortable reading aloud to my daughter…it was hard at first because I’m just shy and weird with talking out loud (like not to adults, but just like for example I never talked to my baby when I was pregnant because I just felt awkward, and then reading I’m like well you can’t understand this anyway!!). I forced myself to do it and now I love it!

  2. Hun I love this post..very good and interesting tips. Sometimes I do it with my little girl that she reads “pretend” to read a story from the pictures..its amazing how the imagination works..great post as maria

  3. I especially like the advice about letting your child lead. I used to get so annoyed that my son wouldn’t let me get through a book, and I would worry that he wasn’t engaged in the books I wanted to share with him. However, when I relaxed a bit and realized that he WAS engaged, just in a different way than I expected, we both enjoyed story time more. I could let him just enjoy turning pages, we could just talk about the pictures, we could simply look at the covers of all the books and build them into a tower. It didn’t matter. He was interacting with books, and now at age four he will sit and read (he even begs for snuggle reading time) for long periods of time.

  4. I’m so glad you talked about it being okay if the child doesn’t let you finish a book or doesn’t seem to be listening. I have almost given up reading aloud to my daughter thinking it was pointless right now since she never seems interested. I’m going to keep trying and just follow her lead on it! Hopefully she’ll let me finish a book someday. Lol!

  5. Such great tips! I read out-loud to my son all the time and he absolutely loves it so much. I definitely agree with you on the re-read thing. I find myself constantly reading one book in particular because he loves it so much. He knows the whole book now and even says a couple of words from it!

  6. Reading together can be so much more than just reading the words on the page. The way we read with them now creates their relationship with reading forever!

  7. YAY! As a teacher I love to ask comprehension and critical thinking questions to my boys when I read to them! LOL it’s really nerdy, but I feel like it helps them in school but also in life because they can use what they learned in a story to work through social situations. I really need to start getting creative and “bringing books to life”. After we read, we just put the book back on the shelf. I think doing a craft or making a book snack will excite them even more about books.

  8. These are great tips for reading with my child. I just remember my daughter most liking when I did all of the voices of the characters. She loved it even more. And thankfully she was never very fidgety.

  9. This was very helpful! My daughter just learned how to read so I am working to make sure she is actually comprehending what’s on the pages. Awesome!

  10. These are all wonderful suggestions for how to make any read aloud engaging and fun for young readers and adults alike.

  11. I love all these ideas- which will probably not surprise you or Vicki at all! When my youngest was born, my oldest was not quite a reader, but he had memorized some books that he ‘read’ to us. So we brought those to the hospital, and he did the baby’s very first read alouds in my hospital bed. Start em young!

  12. We love reading here! It’s the foundation of our unschooling journey! We read everyday, multiple times a day! I’m a huge reader, so I have wanted to pass that on to my children! Only my 8 year old can read right now so we take turns reading to the younger two!

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