Reading Aloud to Children: Creating Lifelong Book Lovers

Once Upon a Heroine - 450 Books for Girls to Love

Establishing a read-aloud ritual can be one of the most gratifying ways to enjoy well-spent family time. If raising children leaves you with little energy or patience for personal reading, take comfort in knowing that reading aloud to kids can be as nourishing for the reader as it is for the listener(s).

Literacy experts agree that reading aloud to children from an early age helps assure their becoming avid readers later on.

Don’t limit reading aloud to preschoolers—school-age children and sometimes even teens love being read to. Add whatever embellishments you’d like—a warm beverage, a specific setting, lots of cuddling—to ensure a prominent place in your child’s memory for this time-honored ritual.

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The read-aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Jim Trelease is the author of The Read Aloud Handbook, which is revised and updated every few years. He writes, “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” 

In his “30 Do’s to Remember When Reading Aloud” he offers great tips and benefits. Here are the first five:

1  Begin reading to children as soon as possible. The younger you start them, the easier and better it is.

2  With infants through toddlers, it’s important to include books that contain repetitions; as they mature, add predictable and rhyming books.

3  During repeat readings of a predictable book, occasionally stop at a key phrase and allow the child to provide the words.

4  Read as often as you and the child (or students) have time for.

5  Set aside at least one traditional time each day for a story.

Read the rest here in this online brochure.

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Revisit heroines you loved as a child

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Reading these books to your own children is a thrill, especially when you can introduce them to heroines you loved as a child. Remember Jo March and the rest of the Little Women, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm?

Revel in their tales of spunk and courage while sharing them with your daughters. There’s no reason not to read them out on boys, too. Few children (of all ages!) can resist Pippi Longstocking, Pollyanna, or Anne of Green Gables.

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It’s never too late for a classic

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Discovering classics that somehow passed you by is a delight, too. If you somehow missed Peter Pan, Bambi, Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, and others as you grew up, share them with your children.

Not merely great children’s books, but great books altogether, the rich language of classics, experienced aloud, stimulates your imagination as much as your children’s.

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Fairy and folk tales, myths, and fables

A First book of Fairy Tales

Fairy and folk tales, myths, and fables make wondrous read-alouds, and their universal themes can be experienced on many levels. Start with the folk stories from your own cultural background, then move on to those of cultures that interest your family.

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Read-Aloud Resources

The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore

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The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blakemore pairs literature’s most beloved heroines (including Jo March, Francie Nolan, and Scout Finch) with their creators to impart wisdom for life’s challenges. These intertwined pairs will inspire you to re-read your old favorites with your daughters.

The Read-Aloud Handbook  by Jim Trelease is a definitive volume on this subject. Updated every few years, it makes an inspiring case for reading aloud, and supplies a thorough list of the best read-aloud books for several age groups.

The New York Times’ Parent’s Guide to the Best Books for Children by Eden Ross Lipson is a guide to children’s literature from picture books through young adult novels, with special recommendations for books that make good read-alouds.

Once Upon a Heroine: 450 Books for Girls to Love by Alison Cooper-Mullin and Jennifer Marmaduke Coye explores classic and contemporary literature for girls.

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