As a grandparent, you are in a unique position to enrich, enhance, and positively influence your grandchildren’s lives. One way to do this is often overlooked or undersold – reading aloud with your grandchildren.
Books are convenient and relatively inexpensive – or free if you utilize the public library. They don’t break, require batteries, or need assembly. And reading can be done anywhere, anytime – including long distance.
Even if reading aloud is not in your comfort zone, I urge you to read on. I will provide techniques that make reading aloud simple for everyone and motivate you with some of the tremendous benefits to your grandchildren – and you.
You might be having some of these doubts: “Books cannot compete with electronics.” “Kids think books are unexciting and old-fashioned.” “My grandchildren will never sit long enough to listen to a book.” I could refute all these excuses with professionally researched studies, but I promise you will get the proof you need if you give reading aloud a try.
As a children’s librarian, I loved story time. However, I know reading aloud does not come naturally to everyone. So, you trip over a few words – I still do. Make light of it, and your grandchildren will too. Seeing that even an adult is not a perfect reader will help your grandchildren feel more confident about their developing reading skills.
Feeling uncertain about creating various voices, goofy faces, or sound effects? I encourage you to let loose and give it a go. But if you would rather not, try enlisting your grandchildren. Participating in this fashion keeps them engaged.
It is important to note that using various voices, funny faces, and sound effects are not essential elements. Below are some remarkably simple tips anyone can use to make reading aloud a success!
Here is an easy first step. Let your grandchildren select the books they want you to read. Or, if you know your grandchildren’s interests, pick books that relate to those topics.
Below are some other simple techniques that keep a child’s interest as you read aloud and make your interactions more impactful. Created by Dr. Grover Whitehurst, these techniques are called interactive reading.
Writer Jason Boog researched and wrote about interactive reading in his book Born Reading, which he wrote during his wife’s first pregnancy. Here are just some of the interactive reading tools he writes about, which anyone can use to make reading aloud fun and successful.
#1: Ask lots and lots of questions.
#2: Share details about the book.
#3: Discuss personal opinions about the book.
#4: Stop and talk about what happened.
#5: Guess what happens next.
#6: Compare the story to personal experiences.
#7: Encourage the child to recount the story.
You may think that some of these scenarios mean you were not successful:
- You don’t finish the book.
- Your grandchildren want to read straight through to the end of the book without using the techniques above.
- Your grandchildren do not like the book – even if you and other children do.
- The book gets abandoned, and you end up on another journey with your grandchildren.
Then what is success? Success is spending time with your grandchildren.
Still not convinced you can and should read aloud with your grandchildren? Below are just some of the invaluable benefits of reading aloud to your grandchildren. (From an article by Chontelle Bonfiglio of Bilingaulkidspot, October 19, 2017.) These should help encourage you:
- Reading to young children sets them up to succeed. The more you read to children, the more knowledge they absorb, and knowledge is important in all aspects of life.
- Reading develops language skills.
- Reading enhances a child’s concentration.
- Reading develops a child’s imagination and creativity.
- Reading books with children helps to develop empathy (More about that in a future article from me on Sixty and Me.)
- Books are a form of entertainment.
- Reading helps create a bond.
Choosing quality books can be daunting. I will be writing articles for Sixty and Me, where you will find book recommendations and reviews. You can also check out my website, where I review and sell children’s books. In addition, I find salesclerks in the children’s section of independent bookstores and children’s librarians are great resources.
These are easy-to-share read-aloud books for birth – 12 years. You can choose to boogie, stretch, stomp, shake, and go crazy with your grandchildren. Or you can sit quietly, helping your grandchildren to learn about animals, acquire new vocabulary, explore the solar system, or travel the world.
Birth – 2 Years
Baby Play – Just read the pages, and you will “…dance, build, splash and laugh” with your grandchildren. Includes high-contrast photos depicting diverse babies and families.
Birth – 3 Years
Barefoot Books Baby’s First Words – A toddler and her two dads share over 100 nouns, verbs, prepositions, adjectives, and interjections. Words are grouped on pages by topics such as “It’s time to get dressed!” “How do you feel!” “Splish splash!” Pictures are cheerful and colorful. All you need to do is tell or ask your grandchildren what’s in the picture.
1 – 4 Years
Hidden Hippo – On every page, there are hippos hidden in the picture. Ask your grandchildren to find them. Children will learn colors and African animals. You can ask your grandchildren to count animals on the pages. Rich vocabulary such as – glided, graceful, relaxing.
2 – 4 Years
Mindful Tots Animal Antics – Each page explains how to pretend to be elephants, frogs, and cats. All you have to do is read the book and follow the instructions with your grandchildren. Pictures visually demonstrate the moves and positions, as well as portray each animal.
2 – 5 Years
I’m a Dirty Dinosaur and I’m a Hungry Dinosaur– These two books tell children exactly what to do to interact with the book. “Shake, shake, shake, shake about the place!” “Slide, slide, slide, slide, slide it like a snail!” “Chomp, chomp, chew, chew, maybe one more slice!” “Mix, mix, beat, beat, make another cake!”
3 – 7 Years
Animal Boogie and Dinosaur Rap with audio – The audio sings the text in the book, so you don’t even have to read! But you do have to dance like there is no tomorrow. I suggest you read Animal Boogie with your grandchildren before you play the audio because the pages contain hidden animals that they are challenged to identify.
6 – 12 Years
Barefoot Books World Atlas – “Find the countries featured in our global stories and discover the animals, architecture, and activities that make them special.” Colorful world atlas is laid out by geographic region. It “celebrates cultural diversity and highlights the ways different people care for this planet we all call home. Features a pull-out map and fold-out booklets and panels…”
8 – 12 Years
Barefoot Books Solar System – Explore the world and universe with your grandchildren. “A glow-in-the-dark, interactive guide to the Solar System, carefully crafted to make complex STEM concepts like astronomy, physics, and chemistry understandable for children aged 8 – 12.”
What books have you read to your grandchildren that were an instant success? What techniques have you used for reading aloud that worked well for you? Need book suggestions for a specific topic? I would be happy to include them in future articles.
Let’s Have a Conversation!