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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Active Reading: Mem Fox Shows How and Why

One of TRC's favorite authors, Mem Fox, has written over 30 children's books and five nonfiction books for adults.  Fox's Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes is a fabulous read-aloud choice. Her nonfiction book for adults, Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever shares TRC's read-aloud approach (do it as often as possible!) and her website is full of suggestions and how-tos for reading aloud. 

On the website, you can hear Mem read aloud from a section from her book titled "And do it like this."

"Reading aloud," Mem says, "is not quite enough -- we need to read aloud well."

Research shows that children need to hear 1,000 stories read aloud before they can learn to read themselves. Mem's philosophy is that for a child to sit still long enough to hear 1,000 stories, what they're hearing needs to be good! Just reading isn't enough; you need to read actively. 

What is active reading? For Mem, it means being aware of your expression, your body position and make eye contact with your audience. Make faces, change your tone and the speed of your reading. Hear her elaborate on active reading here.

When Mem reads, she emphasizes the music of the human voice. Change your pitch, go up and down. Whisper and shout! Speed up and slow down with the story. Make it exciting! 

Other than putting your audience to sleep, the most important thing to avoid is being patronizing. Mem cautions: "We have to make a conscious decision never to talk down to children."

To hear the rest from a professional reader, go to Mem's website and listen for yourself. She reads to adults from Reading Magic the way children should be read to -- like she's having a great time. 

Another great part of Mem's website is her ten read-aloud commandments. Not all can be applied to our Read-Alouds, but here are some that can:
  • Read aloud with animation. Listen to your own voice and don’t be dull, or flat or boring. Hang loose and be loud, have fun and laugh a lot.

  • Read with joy and enjoyment: real enjoyment for yourself and great joy for the listeners.

  • Let children hear lots of language by talking to them constantly about the pictures, or anything else connected to the book; or sing any old song that you can remember; or say nursery rhymes in a bouncy way; or be noisy together doing clapping games.

  • Look for rhyme, rhythm or repetition in books for young children, and make sure the books are really short.

  • Play games with the things that you and the child can see on the page, such as letting kids finish rhymes and finding the letters that start the child’s name and yours, remembering that it’s never work, it’s always a fabulous game.

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


  1. Reading Makes Your Child Smarter

    Reading is known to have numerous benefits. It increases your world knowledge, enhances your vocabulary, and works to improve your reading comprehension abilities.

    But did you know that reading can actually make you smarter?

    In fact, reading not only can make a child smarter, the very act of reading can even help to compensate for modest levels of cognitive ability in children by building their vocabulary and general knowledge! This is a finding reported by researchers Cunningham and Stanovich in a report titled "What Reading Does For the Mind".

    The simple fact here is that reading can make your child smarter, and that learning to read early on is directly linked to later success in life.

    1) Did you know that your child's vocabulary at 3 years old predicts his or her grade one reading success? [1]

    2) Did you know that vocabulary and reading ability in first grade strongly predicts grade 11 outcomes? [2]

    3) Did you know that your child's reading skill in grade 3 directly influences high school graduation? Studies have found that children who cannot read proficiently by grade 3 are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers! [3]

    >> Give your child the best possible head start. Teach your child to read today. Click here to learn how.

    But how do you teach a young child to read, and isn't that the job of the school and teachers?

    You can't be more wrong...

    With the right tools, knowledge, and techniques, teaching young children to read can be a simple and effective process. I'd like to introduce you to a fantastic reading program called Children Learning Reading, a super effective method for teaching children to read - even children as young as just 2 or 3 years old.

    The creators of this program have used it to teach their four children to read before age 3, and by reading, I mean real, phonetic reading.

    I can understand if you find that hard to believe... In fact, I had a difficult time believing it myself as well... that is, until I saw the videos they posted documenting the reading progress of the their children - not to mention all the videos other parents have sent in showcasing their children's reading progress after using the Children Learning Program. After learning more about their methods and techniques, it became clear how it's possible to teach young children to read effectively.

    It is truly within your ability to teach your child to read in a relatively short period of time spending just 10 to 15 minutes each day.

    >> Click here now to watch the videos and start teaching your child to read.

    1. Vocabulary Development and Instruction: A Prerequisite for School Learning
    Andrew Biemiller, University of Toronto

    2. Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later.
    Cunningham AE, Stanovich KE.

    3. Double Jeopardy How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation
    Donald J. Hernandez, Hunter College and the Graduate Center,