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.

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