The Read-Aloud Family

This book by Sarah Mackenzie is one of those books that call you into immediate action and stick with you. I love having a little fire under my butt that motivates me to make a change or try something new. I borrowed the kindle version of this from my library but would like to get a used copy because this is a resource that I want to own. 

My husband and I love reading, so I had always thought we would be spend a good amount of time reading to our kids one day, but I never considered all the benefits aside from the obvious one- learning to read. Sarah provides much more insight on the subject along with tangible action steps to make reading aloud work for your family. 

Sarah is so passionate about the topic that even the first sentence of the book motivates you to immediately start reading to your child. “No one will ever say, no matter how good a parent he or she was, “I think I spent too much time with my children when they were young.” So true. 

Among many things she shares the power of storytelling, the impact reading aloud has in regards to language, comprehension, compassion, confidence, and of course the love of books.

One of my favorite parts is about reading comprehension. When kids are in the beginning years of reading, it takes a lot of mental energy for them to decipher the letters and words on the page and the story can get lost in that busy brain of theirs. “When we do the work of decoding for our kids- when we read a book aloud and take on the work of figuring out correct rhythms, cadence and voice for each line- the child listening gets to spend her mental energy in a different way. She enjoys the story and makes connections.” This is a conclusion that makes so much sense, but one I would never have come to on my own. 

Sarah is so practical and reasonable. She knows that kids are fidgety and squirm around, she has a ton of kids, she gets it and has tips for this. At the start of this book, I had imagined myself reading aloud on a perfectly fluffed sofa to a clean kid or two, still and engrossed in the story. By the end I realized that reading aloud over half eaten bowls of cereal with 10 minutes on the clock before we have to go is more likely, but just as beautiful. 

She is also no-nonsense and does not accept excuses. “Next time you catch yourself thinking that you don’t have enough time to read aloud with your kids, stop and tell yourself the truth. You can find ten minutes and that’s all it takes. If you want reading aloud to make a difference, don’t need to do a ton of it. You need to do a little bit of it over a long stretch of time. It all adds up.” This, I think, is true for many things in life. 

The last part of the book is a resource that helps navigate the overwhelming selection of children's books, explains how most publishers categorize books, and makes recommendations for every stage of reading. Apparently often publishers categorize books based on the age of the main character and assume that kids don’t want to read about kids who are younger than them. Sarah shares that in her opinion publishers tend to lean young when they deem appropriate content for kids, and I am happy to trust her on that.

I hope you pick this book up and it sparks a newfound motivation for reading like it did for me!