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    Educational Philosophy, Home Education

    3 Big Reasons Your Child Should Be Reading Aloud

    October 17, 2018 by Brandy Vencel

    He should have practice, too, in reading aloud, for the most part, in the books he is using for his term’s work. These should include a good deal of poetry, to accustom him to the delicate rendering of shades of meaning, and especially to make him aware that words are beautiful in themselves, that they are a source of pleasure, and are worthy of our honour; and that a beautiful word deserves to be beautifully said, with a certain roundness of tone and precision of utterance. Quite young children are open to this sort of teaching, conveyed, not in a lesson, but by a word now and then.

    – Charlotte Mason, Home Education


    [dropcap]I[/dropcap]n the early days, when we’re knee-deep in picture books, easy readers, and phonics lessons, there seems to be no end to reading aloud. Your child reads aloud to himself and he reads aloud during his phonics lessons. Later, when you’re trying to transition him to independent reading, you might try Buddy Reading. This is where you read one page (or paragraph) and he reads the next.

    And then comes the magical moment when he can read on his own! It’s a beautiful thing.

    At this point, it’s tempting to revert. I don’t know about you, but after my last child learned to read, I returned to me reading aloud or them reading independently. I didn’t ask them to read aloud very often. At least, not for a few years.

    At some point, I realized I was doing the children a disservice, and we’ve been bumbling toward more reading-aloud-by-children ever since. Currently, I’m divvying up Scripture verses and passages each morning during Circle Time and everyone reads something before our Bible lessons are through. This is short compared to what they are expected to read, for example, at their Shakespeare class, but it’s sufficient for now, and still accomplishing some of my main goals.

    There are many reasons to have your children read aloud. Today, we’re going to think about three of them.

    1. They learn to read for the sake of others.

    If reading is to be pleasant to the listeners, the reading itself must be distinct, easy, and sympathetic.

    – Charlotte Mason, Formation of Character


    Let everybody take his night or his week for reading, with the certainty that the pleasure of the whole family depends on his reading well.

    – Charlotte Mason, Formation of Character

    This outward focus shouldn’t be underestimated. The motivation for reading aloud well should come from the fact that our listeners suffer if we don’t! It’s a way of caring about others to read well for their benefit.

    I don’t just mean enjoyment. If you have ever suffered through someone at a Bible study or Sunday School class as they read the Word of God aloud badly, you know what I mean. When something is read aloud poorly, it’s hard to comprehend. So we learn to do a good job for the sake of their enjoyment, yes, but also for their understanding.


    2. We get a chance to correct their pronunciation.

    It is important that, when reading aloud, children should make due use of the vocal organs, and, for this reason, a reading lesson should be introduced by two or three simple breathing exercises, as, for an example, a long inspiration with closed lips and a slow expiration with open mouth.

    – Charlotte Mason, Home Education

    The stumbling reader spoils his book from sheer want of attention. He should train himself to look on, to be always a line in advance, so that he may be ready for what is coming. Faults in enunciation should be dealt with one by one. For instance, one week the reader takes pains to secure the “d” in “and”; the other letters will take care of themselves, and the less they are heard the better. Indeed, if the final consonants are secured, d, t, and ng especially, the reading will be distinct and finished.

    – Charlotte Mason, Formation of Character


    While we parents could certainly kill the pleasure of reading aloud for our children by jumping on their every mispronunciation, reading aloud is an important tool in our toolbox for even identifying their pronunciation problems. Many times, we don’t recognize little mistakes in the context of conversations.

    I love Charlotte Mason’s advice to deal with one thing at a time. We might say that this week we are working on our breathing — on taking a breath at the periods and trying to read through the full sentence with correct pauses.

    The next week perhaps we shall focus on pronouncing the t at the end of words.

    Some of my children needed to work on opening their mouths; they were basically mumbling. People complain that teenagers mumble, and sometimes they do. The habit of making minor corrections, and practicing little perfections, during family read aloud time is super beneficial.


    3. We can identify where intervention is needed.

    Sometimes, the problems in pronunciation aren’t so easily solved. You begin to realize that, for example, this child of yours actually has a lisp. Maybe he can’t even hear his own lisp (which makes is difficult for him to correct). If you have tried to work on pronunciation for many months without seeing any progress, it’s time for a hearing test and a speech evaluation.

    Likewise, it is sometimes in having a child read aloud that parents realize there is something dreadfully wrong. They were wondering why the narrations were so bad; the reading aloud revealed that the child couldn’t actually read.

    We “graduate” our children to independent reading, and expect them to continue to progress as the language becomes more difficult over the years, and we don’t realize that while the child’s dyslexia wasn’t evident with little words, like if and it, it is evident when having them read aloud a book with more complex language.

    It might be shocking to discover your child can’t read what you think he should be able to read — and is guessing wildly and terribly to make up for the deficiency — but think about how bad it is for something like this to fly under the radar until near graduation! Reading aloud can be the little checkpoint that helps us notice what is going wrong.


    Don’t forget the beauty and delight!

    As the quote I began with so wonderfully states, it is in reading a beautiful word or passage aloud that we realize we ought to give it its due: “a beautiful word deserves to be beautifully said.” For years I did all the reading aloud in our home, and I realize there was a level of selfishness involved. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of saying beautiful words in beautiful ways! What I forgot was that my children should have that experience, too.

    There are many reasons to have our children read aloud, but the important thing is to start. Even if it’s just a few Bible verses on a Wednesday morning.


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  • Reply Becky October 21, 2018 at 11:23 am

    We do the morning prayers as a family from the Magnificat and the older two readers take turns and everyone else just joins where they can (I’m conveniently preoccupied with the baby!) I would say their readings were mediocre until we got a new member at our parish who very dramatically reads. His voice just carries into your soul through the day. All I need to say now is read like David and they do! Having an excellent example besides their mother has made all the difference.

    I do poetry at breakfast as well…somehow it sounds delightful in the evening!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel October 22, 2018 at 10:25 am

      What a gift! I hadn’t thought about the value of hearing someone else read aloud and do ti well, but WOW! I will have to watch for an opportunity like that. ♥

  • Reply Erika October 21, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!!! I am so happy you address this for older students. Reading aloud is a critically important skill to cultivate in our students, even in the later years. It touches on skills needed for any kind of presentation (interviews, performances, meeting someone new…), builds confidence, I could go on and on.

    For the younger years, one thing that I think is often overlooked as we focus so much on teaching letters, phonics, sounding out, all the “grind” of teaching a child to read is that these read aloud skills are just as important then, too. Not just the decoding and comprehension. Although they can not yet “read aloud”, they can still develop the ear and voice needed for successful reading aloud by enjoying nursery rhymes, both spoken and sung, and simple songs. The music of the language, the richness of the spoken word is important to develop for the younger years even as they are working on abc’s and phonics.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel October 22, 2018 at 10:16 am

      Yes! So many good thoughts here, Erika! ♥

  • Reply Claire October 18, 2018 at 12:21 am

    I came across that first quote a couple of years ago and decided to have my kids start helping me with poetry in the evenings. We read one poem each per day, and I try to have it so I read the newest one and the kids each read one I’ve read before so they’ve heard any new words etc. They occasionally take a turn at reading our family read-alouds, too. I like the idea of choosing one element of diction to focus on at a time, and I might look for an opportune moment to comment on reading with the needs of the listener in mind – that is such a good point!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel October 18, 2018 at 2:53 pm

      Poetry in the evenings just sounds so dreamy! We’ve been doing it in the mornings, but there is something enchanting about the evenings. You are tempting me to move it! ♥

      I keep meaning to look and see if I can find a book on elocution or diction that might give me a framework for some of the pointers she mentions giving to the children.

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