Why Read Aloud?

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One of the most important parts of our day is our read aloud time.  I have a list of books to read through each school year and we slowly work our way through the entire list.

Reading is a huge priority in our homeschool.

What books should you read aloud? All types!

Read how I choose our read alouds…

I try to choose a wide variety of books for each year.  I don’t believe that all read alouds have to be above a child’s personal reading level.

I enjoy reading books of all difficulty levels with my kids – even ones that Curly (1st grade) can easily read herself.  I choose books that are below level, at level, and above my kids’ ability levels.

Below level – I choose books that are below the reading and comprehension levels of my kids.  These might be picture books or simple chapter books.  These are books chosen for wonderful pictures, a thought-provoking story, or the lyrical writing.  We spend time discussing the pictures, themes, and concepts in these books since they are shorter and easier for my kids to comprehend.  When we read these, we snuggle together and turn the pages slowly to enjoy the pictures and stories.

Our recent reads from this category are:
Amos and Boris
Billy and Blaze

At level – These are books that are fairly long with more complicated story lines or more in-depth themes.  These books are great for narration – I ask my kids questions about the story line as we read and they narrate back what they remember.  These books are also great for practicing summarizing skills.

Our recent reads from this category are:
Homer Price
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Nate the Great
My Father’s Dragon

Above level – These are the longer more challenging books with complex stories and characters and difficult vocabulary words.  When I read these books, I pause often to provide short summaries and explanations to make sure that my kids are following the entire story line.

Our recent reads from this category are:
The Railway Children
Winnie the Pooh
Abel’s Island

When I make our read aloud list for the year, I try to have a good mix of all 3 types of books.  I want the books that we can simply enjoy, the books that are interesting and exciting, and the books that challenge and stretch my kids.


Why do I think read alouds are important?
Reading aloud does several things for my kids:

  • Builds comprehension skills
  • Broadens their vocabulary
  • Introduces them to wonderful literature
  • Initiates conversations about important topics
  • Introduces new topics, time periods, and people
  • Sparks thoughtful questions and discussions
  • Improves their language skills
  • Piques their curiosity
  • Inspires their creativity

Reading aloud to my children has taken them to places around the world, taught them about people throughout history, put people and places in context, encouraged them, challenged them, caused them to ask hard questions, and furthered their passion for reading.

I have enjoyed the book The Read Aloud Handbook which makes a case for the importance of reading aloud as well as provides a lengthy book list of read aloud titles.

Other books about the importance of reading aloud that are on my list:
Reading Magic
What to Read When
Honey for a Child’s Heart
Read for the HeartGive Your Child the World

Here are some book lists to start building your own booklist or home library:
K-4 Read Alouds
Picture Book List
Summer Read Aloud List from Read Aloud America
Jim Trelease’s Page 
List from Good Reads for chapter books
Chapter Books
Boy Friendly Read Aloud List
100 Best Chapter Books
101 Read Alouds
67 Books that book lovers should read to children
100 Fiction Books


How do I keep their attention?
It’s easy to keep their attention when I’m reading picture books to them.  They love to look at the pictures with me.  With the more challenging books it’s more difficult to hold their attention and keep them engrossed in the stories.  I try to find things to keep their hands busy while they sit and listen.

I use:

  • coloring books
  • watercolors
  • playdoh
  • soft blocks
  • oil pastels
  • play foam
  • yarn and glue
  • construction paper and scissors
  • stickers

And when I get desperate, I let them snack while I read or I give them suckers (aka: the big kids’ pacifier).

Each year we make it through an impressive stack of read alouds (and we cycle through them again in a couple years).  It’s one of my favorite times spent with my kids.  And even though Curly is an independent reader, I don’t have any plan to stop our tradition.


What are your favorite read alouds?


More reading inspiration

4th Grade Read Alouds

Our Favorite Picture Books

Our Favorite Reads


6 thoughts on “Why Read Aloud?

  1. I have just recently gotten into the swing of reading aloud. I've always read to my kids, but for some reason once they learned to read on their own, I kind of stopped reading to them as much. I am LOVING our read aloud time now.

  2. I'm reading the Railway children to one of my children at present! Thank you for the list of resoures although my primary resource is what is on our bookshelves. It is such fun to read books that I enjoyed, as a child.

  3. I love your list of books. I love that you give lists to other books. I love the idea of keeping their hands busy while reading too. My daughter loves for us to read. I love the things that come out of her mouth while we are reading. She has to stop me and tell me things while we are reading and I just love the imagination.

  4. Keeping their hands busy has been so helpful! The other day we read for over an hour while they did some art. It was so fun! Reading aloud has challenged their imagination and built their vocabulary. I think it's so important!

  5. How do you organize your read-alouds for the year? I see your pictures of shelves and wonder how they're sorted. I always make up a read aloud list over the summer, but then it seems like through the year I'm trying to remember what books I had on my list and where they ran off to. So do you organize by type, by order you plan to read, by child….? And do you acquire all these books before the school year starts, or do you get them along the way or at the library when you need them? I'm ADD and struggle to stay on top of things that don't have a clear cut plan.

  6. I do sort and organize my books. I use colored electrical tape at the top of the spine of each book. I have one color or a specific color combo for each grade. Preschool is read and 4th grade is blue/yellow, etc. That way I can easily sort the books by grade level that we use them. This helps me find books scattered throughout the house because I can easily recognize them as a school book.
    I keep a list of the read alouds on a table in our homeschool room so I can refer to which book is next on our schedule. Then I can pull it out of the correct section.
    I do buy all of my books. I hate running to the library or finding that the book I want is checked out already. I also hate the fines I have to pay when I forget to return books.
    I should blog about my little system. It's fairly simple and pretty straightforward but it keeps me organized and I've stopped losing school books all over the house.

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