Helping kids become life-long readers (and learners) can be a daunting task. But one easy way to get started is by reading out loud to your child. It may be a lot easier than you think—especially if you learn to have some fun with characters and stories. The tips here will help you inject pure joy into whatever you read to your budding learner.
1. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Even the most able reader feels self-conscious reading aloud now and then. And when you’re stressed, tired, or over scheduled, you’re likely to make your own fair share of errors. If you stumble, leave out a word, or accidentally skip a page or three, don’t fret. Focus on fun, not perfection.
2. Reset your timeline.
Nobody ever said the only right time to read to your child is at bedtime. If you can, of course, go for it. But if the end of the day is difficult for you, have your partner step in, or say good night with a kiss and a simple song or two. Read to your child when you’re more relaxed and can really savor those moments together. Pre-nap, post-nap, even meal times are options.
3. Abandon the plot line.
Forget fidelity. Why not use a well-loved book as the basis for a brand new story you and your sweetie compose together? Encourage your child to use her imagination and have fun adding twists and turns to a familiar tale. Take a moment to talk about what’s happening to each of the characters. Fashion a new ending. Make notes as you read, draw pictures together, and voila—she’s created her first masterpiece.
4. Channel the Actor’s Studio.
Perform with artistic expression. Part of the fun of reading out loud is letting go a little. Get silly. Be dramatic. Add hand and body motions. If the book says, The lion roared, make lion-like faces and create sound effects to go with it. Encourage your soon-to-be reader to concoct her own sounds and faces or mimic your inventions.
5. Grab props or a costume.
Nothing beats immersing yourself and your child in a book’s rich language and memorable characters. Remember dressing up for each and every new Harry Potter book? Try it again but this time let your child take the lead. Allow her to select a character and figure out what defines it. Look at the pictures. See what creates the atmosphere and use what you have around the house to mimic it.