Tips for Reading Aloud as a Family

We all have our favourite stories—and our favourite ways of telling them! Some picture books can lead to expressive readings with big movements, while others can be told in a calming way to settle little ones during a transition or at bedtime. We might use silly voices or sing the story to a familiar tune. Depending on your approach, you can bring out different components of the story and can practice different early literacy skills.

Let’s give it a try! Here are four ways to read a favourite picture book:

1. Add Actions 

Adding movements (or sign language) to a story is a great way to engage little readers. Not only does an action emphasize a key word, it also gives young children a chance to join in telling the story. This tip works especially well with books that have a repeated phrase. Emphasizing a repetitive story structure helps children to practice their narrative skills, giving them a sense of how stories work.

2. Ask Questions

Slowing a story down and stopping to ask questions is a great way to focus on your little one’s comprehension of the story. Pointing to illustrations and asking questions can give you a chance to talk about what you see and link it to your child’s past experiences. It might also give you an opportunity to explore new topics and new vocabulary.

3. Sing Along

Try singing the book instead of reading it. Some books (especially those that rhyme) can be sung to a familiar tune such as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Singing slows everything down to help little ones hear the individual sounds in words. Don’t worry about how you sound—your little one loves hearing your voice.

4. Use Puppets (Or Other Props) 

Retelling the story with props—such as sock puppets, stuffed animals, or DIY stick puppets—is another way to reinforce comprehension and to focus on story structure (emphasizing that stories have a beginning, middle and end).

And remember, have fun with it! Reading aloud is a great (and free!) family bonding activity that helps to build a lifelong love of reading. So grab a book, and give it a try!

Learn More