TRC Read to Kids

Welcome to The Reading Connection’s blog, where you’ll find the best guidance on reading aloud to kids. Whether you are a TRC Read-Aloud volunteer, parent or student, the book themes and crafts ideas, child development guidelines and recommended websites will expand your world. For 25 years, The Reading Connection has worked to improve the lives of at-risk kids by linking the magic of reading to fun experiences that inspire a passion for learning. Visit our website at

Monday, November 28, 2011

Read-Alouds with parents

Parents at Read-Alouds?  You bet! 

At The Reading Connection, we're all about helping families create home environments that support reading. Doing that in a long-lasting way means helping parents get their kids excited about books.

Does it change the dynamic of the volunteer-led Read-Aloud when parents are there? Of course it does. But it is all worth it to have  more people in a kid's life having fun with books. 

Volunteers from Alive! House in Alexandria, where parents attend every Read-Aloud, tell us that the kids like having their parents there. The kids are usually better behaved and they love showing their crafts to their mothers.

So if parents drop in to your Read-Aloud (or if your site requires their participation), try these strategies to engage them:

Be welcoming and encouraging!  Introduce yourself to the parent and find out who her children are. Share your experiences with her kids and ask about her kids' interests and feelings about reading. Give her a sneak preview of the night's theme and activity.

Invite them to participate.  Grown-ups like having fun too. And parents are great at modeling how to listen to a story and how to chime in with rhymes and repetition. When you break into smaller groups to read, invite a parent to join your small group. They may also enjoy helping with the activity or listening as their child chooses a book to keep.

Model book-sharing and conversation about books.  Some parents may never have seen how their child reacts to a book being read aloud. Some may not be familiar with talking about a book with a child while reading it. Watching you and a child have fun with books can build a parent's confidence to try it herself. 

Use the Promises and stay positive.  If kids need to be refocused during a Read-Aloud, and you are feeling self-conscious about guiding a child whose parent is attending, remember your TRC Promises. The kids know that at a Read-Aloud everyone agrees to "Listen, Respect, Cooperate and Have Fun." Ask for, and model, the behavior you want to see from the child.

Meet parents where they are.  Remember that you are a guest in their home. Some parents may be more engaged than others, and that's just fine. Remember that while most of the families we serve are under an enormous amount of stress, TRC moms and dads, like all parents, want their kids to learn and have fun. 

To receive credit for this online training, please fill out the form here.

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