Happy World Read Aloud Day: Raise your child to be a lifelong reader and an eager learner by reading aloud to your child!
(Artwork from Marianne Richmond's Hooray for You!)
First and foremost, it's never too early to start reading aloud to your child, or even to the bump in your belly! Reading to your little one, or simply reading together, no matter your child's age, is one of the most organic ways to bond with your child.
Furthermore, reading aloud helps develop your child's literacy skills at a young age. From vocabulary to phonics to comprehension, storytelling, and interaction with the printed word, reading books to children is a powerful tool for any parent looking to instill an early love of reading and learning!
If your child is getting ready to enter preschool or kindergarten, reading aloud together is a great preparation for this big, exciting change in his or her life. By reading books and stories aloud as often as possible, you're already introducing them to the importance of reading and getting them ready to start on their amazing journey of education.
If you have a baby or children and you're still feeling a smidge nervous to read aloud to your child (yes, it's normal!), choose books with a natural rhythm or rhyme to them. Perhaps practice when you're alone if you think it would help, and make sure you put yourself in a comfortable situation. Despite any sort of nerves you may feel, your child will be delighted and enthralled by the sound of your voice, even if you stumble over words or mispronounce a character's name. Go for it! You'll get used to it and learn to love it, we promise!
Every Parent Needs to Hear Some Positive Reinforcement…
• Babies love, love, love the sound of your voice! They also love to look at colorful pictures. Reading a book with your baby in your lap is one of the easiest, and most natural, ways to bond.
• Even if you think your child is too old to be read aloud to, think again! Reading aloud is great for older kids who are just starting to read aloud at school as well as voice their opinions in class. Take turns reading chapter books aloud, or let your child read the chapter book to you. Your child is never too old to enjoy a good book read aloud. Even though they may fight it at first, fight back and read aloud anyway!
Before You Read
• Start by turning off all distractions. This includes phones, televisions, laptops, etc.
• Find a comfortable place to read—a special rocking chair, find a seat on your favorite comfy couch or chair, or make a nest by the fireplace. Find somewhere that you can call your special reading spot.
• Commit to a routine time (morning or evening) and do your best to fit in reading aloud whenever possible. Reading aloud for at least 15 minutes each day will really make a positive difference in your child's development, as well as enhance their willingness to learn and read as they grow.
• Before you start reading the book you or your child has picked out, ask your child what they think the book is about. Show them the cover, read about the author, and look at some of the pictures together. Let them observe the book's details before you start. Compare your hypotheses once you've finished the story!
While You Read
• Get into your reading character. Use the book's cues to dress up or dress down your voice as appropriate. It's important for your child to hear you reading with changes in your voice and at a varying pace.
• Remember to use the correct tone, volume, and animation as you see fit. Incorporate sounds if you feel so inclined! There's no reason to hold back! Read with confidence and expression! Reading in a funny, intense, or loud voice to accommodate the tone of the book will really help your child get into the story, and they'll love it!
• Make sure you read slowly enough so your child can still soak the story in and have enough time to process the pictures and artwork.
• Let your child hold the book and/or turn the pages. Urge your child to point out pictures they like or things they find interesting in the illustrations or words.
• Encourage your children to ask about the characters, pictures, or words. Or, if they're reluctant, ask them questions about the story. Take the time to discuss the story afterward by asking your child about certain parts of the books, especially if there is a prominent lesson or powerful message (in most cases there is!).
After You Read
• If you have time, scan the book before you and your child get together to read and see if you can find connections to your family's personal experiences. You can then discuss them after you've finish the story!
• If you end up reading a story your child is particularly familiar with or it's already one of their favorites, challenge your child to tell you the story and praise them for their retelling!
Reading stories aloud is such a productive and happy way to enjoy books on a personal level together. Happy World Read Aloud Day!
Recommended Reads to Light the Way in Celebration of World Read Aloud Day! Find Below a Few of Our Personalized Books with Repetition and Rhyme:
Put Me In The Story is pleased to introduce Find Me If You Can, an interactive picture book to engage children with reading in a fun, search-and-find setting. This is the first title available at Put Me In The Story that allows parents to include up to three children in one personalized book. (How exciting!)
A refreshing and original spin off the popular Where's Waldo? and I-Spy, Find Me If You Can offers the search-and-find experience, but in a unique personalized form. Children are asked to find their photo amid a sea of smiling faces floating against several bright, colorful backgrounds. With each page turn, a new, vibrant theme appears.
Creators Tom and Sue Marzella say that the unique concept improves concentration and focus while also encouraging children to read.
"It's a keepsake," says Tom Marzella. "It's something that a family can keep for a long, long time. When you give this book to a kid, their face just lights up. And when they realize their face is on every page, they're just glued to it. They love seeing their face in a book."
"Find Me If You Can is a different kind of personalization," says Dominique Raccah, CEO and publisher of Sourcebooks. "This playful treasure hunt engages children to explore each page, and gives parents and children a chance to create a love of reading and a special bond."
Find Me If You Can is a gift; a book that really showers your children with attention and reminds them how special they are. We're excited to share it with you!
Your secret weapon: illustrations.
Pictures, art, and any sort of visual are a great way to get your kids interested in—and even excited about—reading. The art is just as important as the story, so don't forget to take the time to linger over the pages and focus on the illustrations.
From Pencil to Print. Check out this video to get an idea of how Mike Litwin, illustrator of New York Times bestselling My Name Is Not Isabella, went through his creative process to bring Isabella—the sassy little girl with the soaring imagination—to life.
How can you captivate your child with picture books?
• Choose beautiful art. It's very common that children will end up picking out books to read based on what the cover looks like. As a parent, you want to be sure to bring home books with attention-grabbing art on the cover and within the book's pages. Better yet, try bringing your child with you to the library or the bookstore and let them select a book to read with you.
• Vary your picture book collection. Don't be afraid to select daring art. Picture books with eccentric artwork or illustrations are a great way to introduce new topics and spark new discussions with your child, allowing them to be more imaginative and ask questions. Conversely, feel free to choose books that may be comforting to your child as well. Realistic plotlines with simple illustrations might move your child at different times in different ways. A more familiar story with simple artwork could be a fitting option before bedtime.
• Tour the illustrations before you read the story. This is a great way to observe how your child responds to and processes what they see on the page. As you thumb through the illustrations together, maybe your child will come up with a story of their own. And especially if your child can't read yet, it can be a fun challenge to go through and see if they can use the illustrations to tell you a story. Or, if you've read the story together before, this can also be a great exercise to see what your child can remember. (They can test your memory too!)
• Engage your child with the art. Explore. Soak it all in. Pause during the story to take time to explain the illustrations, or ask your child what they think about a certain image or artwork. Ask them what they see and how it makes them feel. Think of ways to incorporate your child into the story. See if you can connect them to the artwork or story by relating them to a character or particular instance in the plot.
We read to connect. Illustrations and pictures help form connections.
One of the main goals of reading with your children is to help them build responsive connections and establish an appreciation for language, art, expression, and communication. By sharing art and stories with your child and engaging them with what's happening on the pages, you're opening up their minds to thinking abstractly, creatively, and critically. And, on top of all that, it's fun for everyone!
Imagination is one of the best (and most accessible!) tools for your child's development, and here's why...
Imagination is a super power. Or is the super power just part of the imagination? (How often does your child dress up as Batman, Superman, or some sort of newly-invented super hero?)
In addition to allowing your child be anyone or go anywhere, an active imagination enables your child to develop a strong sense of social awareness. It can help our sons and daughters expand their world and knowledge; to understand and attempt to feel the experiences of others. If you're worried that your child has an over-active imagination, below are a few reasons why you should be celebrating—and nurturing—your child's imagination. You can be proud to know that your child will grow up to be:
• A Problem Solver: Imagination is the window to thinking abstractly and conceptually. If your children can visualize a rainbow stretching over a faraway land, then they can think to magnificent measures. Your kids are able to instinctively adapt photographs, pictures, or real-life scenes they've seen to create something grand out of their imagination—or maybe they just thought it up all together. Imagination enhances memory, thought processes, and expands visions and vibrancy in the mind. When playing make believe, there's usually some sort of conflict that needs to be resolved, and your kids have the most interesting ways of going about that. They learn to think out of the box.
• Self-Confident: Your children need to feel like they can do anything or be anyone (an astronaut, a nurse, a firefighter, a veterinarian, a rock star)—it's this sense of self-direction that enables them to believe they can move forward in their lives with big dreams and goals. This builds and develops confidence, especially in their abilities and achievements. It also allows them to feel in control during situations that may be scary or unfamiliar.
• A Strong Communicator: Playing pretend, or acting out real-life or made-up scenarios help your children explore relationships. By playing house, for example, your kids imagine how it feels to be a particular person in a certain situation. This practice teaches empathy, sharing, understanding, and cooperation. It also introduces them to the importance of language and expression, i.e. words, sound effects, hand gestures etc.
• Best of all, imagination teaches your child to be adventurous, fearless, and creative! Playing make-believe or pretend can help your children work through fears, doubts, and worries about real-life situations. They can then take those fears and learn how to tackle them….using their imagination!
Where should you start to help spark a healthy imagination?
Read and share stories! Books, picture books, sounds, and stories are a few of the most important things that help trigger more creativity and imagination in your child. Make music and draw together. After all, your child was designed to be imaginative, inventive, maybe even a little silly at times, and they have you to share those qualities with.
Coming Next Week!
Find Me If You Can, a personalized search-and-find picture book, will be available to order in hardcover next week. The perfect interactive book to start exercising the imagination as a whole family!
Stay tuned for more personalized reading goodies coming your way soon...