The Importance of Reading Great Books

Reading Aloud to Your Children

Children's Literature Resources for Parents

Great Read-Alouds

Favorite Books for All Ages

Favorite Books for Preschool and Early Elementary

Favorite Books for
Late Elementary

Favorite Books for Middle School

Favorite Books for Upper Middle and High School

Caldecott Award Winners

Award Winners

College Bound Reading List

Valerie Bendt on Reading Great Literature to Children

Valerie Bendt's Book Recommendations, Preschool/Early Elementary

Valerie Bendt's Book Recommendations
, Elementary/Middle School

Valerie Bendt's Book Recommendations, High School

<<To go to our lists of recommended books for each age level, use the links in the left-hand column.

Reading Aloud to Your Children

The Importance of Reading Aloud to Your Children

You will be amazed to discover that the simple act of reading aloud to your children is highly enjoyable, it deepens relationships, provides unique opportunities for sharing, and allows you access to their lives in ways few other activities can.

Reading aloud doesn't need to stop when the children can read. We read aloud together all during our children's schooling years, and I still read aloud on long car trips. I even read aloud with friends. We try to save books we want to discuss and read them aloud together, pausing whenever the book sparks an idea someone wants to comment on.

I even have adult friends who get together once a week and read a play. The switch around the roles and have a great time together.

Making Reading Aloud Memorable

Below are some suggestions for reading aloud gleaned from our own experience and from The Read Aloud Handbook.

1. Begin reading to children as soon as possible. Studies have even shown that reading to children in the womb enhances language recognition skills.

2. Try and establish a routine time that children can anticipate and when reading can be leisurely and uninterupted.

3. Remember, the art of listening must be cultivated. Expect short attention spans at first. If you notice interest waning, read shorter selections or find books with short stories or chapters. However, if it is obvious that no one is interested in the book you've chosen, don't hesitate to put it aside and choose another.

4. Start with picture books and build to stories and novels. Reword difficult passages. Vary the length, difficulty, and subject matter.

5. Find a suspenseful spot at which to stop.

6. Make sure everyone is comfortable.

7. Allow time for discussion and meaningful interruptions, but don't turn discussions into quizzes, impose interpretations of the book's meaning on the listeners, or insist upon using the book as a teaching opportunity. Resist the urge to "educate" while reading aloud.

8. Use plenty of expression, varying your tone of voice to fit the dialog.

9. Read slowly enough for the listeners to build mental pictures of what they have heard. Slow down in picture books and let children fully examine the illustrations.

10. Add a third dimension to the book whenever possible, like serving blueberries when reading Blueberries for Sal.

11. With boys, let the father do as much of the reading as possible.

12. Provide crayons, Duplos, etc. for active children who find it difficult to just sit and listen.

13. Be aware of a child's emotional level and choose books that do not violate it. What this means is, don't read scary stories to a fearful child, sad animal stories to a child who has a tender heart toward animals, etc. You want your read aloud time to be something that that children look forward to, not something that upsets them.

What do we read?

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. This book not only convinces you of the critical importance of reading aloud to your children, but it also has lists and lists of the "best of the best" books that all ages can read aloud and enjoy.

Great Read-Alouds

The following children’s literature can be used as read-alouds when the children are small and as readers when they are learning to read. For more detailed information about each of these books, CLICK HERE>>

The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter
Goodnight Moon
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
If Your Give a Moose a Muffin
If You Give a Pig a Pancake
The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh
The Complete Adventures of Curious George
Katy and the Big Snow
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
The Little House
Blueberries for Sal
Make Way for Ducklings
A Time of Wonder
One Morning in Maine
Fritz and the Beautiful Horse
Caps for Sale
The Story About Ping
The Story of Ferdinand
Bread and Jam for Francis
A Bargain for Francis
Read Aloud Bible Stories

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