Few things appeal to me more than the idea of curling up on the couch with a hot cup of coffee, a good book, and a warm, handmade afghan while snow glitters outside. The only thing more desirable in that picturesque image is my three children quietly occupied with their own books and hot chocolate.
If you have struggling readers, as I do, cozy winter read-alouds are the perfect addition to that dreamy scene.
Life rarely (ok, pretty much never) works out in picture-perfect ways. In addition to my two struggling readers, I have one busy fella that will sit still only long enough to read Lego directions.
Rather than giving up on my perfect vision, I’ve compromised a little bit. For years now, we’ve enjoyed read-alouds on winter afternoons. They are a great way to share my love of books and reading with my reading-skeptical crew.
Turns out, they love stories. They just aren’t fans of the actual practice of reading. Yet.
Here are my best tips on how to use family read-alouds to share your love of reading and good books with reluctant or struggling readers in the family.
Be Patient and Don’t Give Up.
As I said, my kiddos love stories and have plenty of patience for long books, as long as they don’t have to do the reading themselves! Our afternoon reading time can last for two hours or more.
If reading aloud is new to your family, your kiddos might only have the patience for a few pages or a chapter at a time. Stick with it daily. Their interest, and ability to follow for longer periods of time, will grow.
Use Their Comprehension Level.
This guideline is particularly important for struggling or reluctant readers. They might only be able to read Pete the Cat independently, and that’s boring! But, they can understand The Chronicles of Narnia if you’re reading it to them. Now that’s exciting stuff!
Using comprehension v.s. reading level helps them love books, expands their vocabulary, and exposes them to great writing while their independent reading skills mature.
You can easily check comprehension every few pages, or at the end of a chapter, by asking some questions. Back up and re-read as needed. Remember: you are growing comprehension as you stretch and expand patience and attention.
Pick Good Books.
Since you’re reading aloud at a higher level than they can read themselves, you are exposing them to a wider variety of literature, writing styles, and information.
My crew loves adventure stories. I love history. So, we do a lot of historical fiction together. Fantasy adventure is another family favorite here. We take turns picking out books. We just started A Wrinkle in Time.
I can also fit in a lot of biographies if I consider these guidelines:
*Have we studied this person in school?
* Have we heard about the person on the news?
* If not, is the person around their age?
* Does the book have a narrative-style within their age & interest level?
Let Them Multi-task!
I have found our children can follow along better when their hands are as occupied as their minds. A good way to start is to read aloud while they eat lunch. We also let them build Legos, do hand sewing or stitching, color, draw/sketch/doodle, use sticker books, or other quiet activities.
I allow anything they can do without making me raise my voice to be heard. Again, by checking in every few pages or chapters you can make sure they’re following along. I’ve always been pleasantly surprised how letting them “play” while I read keeps them focused for much longer periods than if they only sit and listen.
Incorporate Non-Reading Elements!
Follow up by watching a movie adaption together. Read the Little House series and then go to a frontier museum. Read a biography and then google images of your main characters together. After reading the Viking Quest series by Lois Walfrid Johnson, we looked up Viking food recipes and had a fun cooking day. You can also go the reverse direction. Let a movie you watch or news story you hear lead you to some books on the topic.
Need more fun ideas to get you percolating?
*Have pajama day while you read aloud together in someone’s bed.
*Depending on your story, read by candlelight, lantern, or flashlight.
*Read outside in the woods, in a fort, or bundled up on the porch in bad weather.
*Read winter-themed or seasonal books.
*Have a special snack time while you read.
*If you have strong readers, take turns reading aloud.
What is your favorite, cozy winter read-aloud? Tell us in the comments below.
Authored by Tabitha Philen of Growing up Homeschooled/Meet Penny
This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.
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