Reading aloud to your kids, even as they get older, is really important. You open their eyes to books they may not otherwise choose, you can share your opinions and discuss something together, and you model good reading. You tell them what new words mean and show them how good readers ask questions while they read (What is going to happen next? Do I like this character? Does that story make sense?).
But, what do you do if your schedule doesn't line up with your kid's schedule? Or, if you're just too tired to do it justice at the end of the day. Or, as kids get bigger, it might just not be a good day to hang together.
So, record yourself reading.
Make your own library of audiobooks with you as the reader. Your child can listen to you reading, when you're not there. And, these are better than store-bought audiobooks because YOU are the reader. You know your child best - so you can stop and explain things, ask questions and you are likely their most favorite voice to hear.
1. Use a good, easy voice recorder.
So, you might consider getting and using a voice recording device. We use a very easy voice recording Sony device (pictured to the side and what Lily is using above).
You literally hit record, talk, and then hit stop. Play to listen. It's so simple that my 3 year old can do it. And, she can't do anything else on it. She's not distracted while listening to me read.
I should mention, with this device, you can also upload all of your audio files, so you can put them on your computer or into iTunes. You can email them, you can share them for others. You can save them for later for use with another kid.
2. Read slower than you think you should.
Read slower than you think you should. Read deliberately. Make sure to pause obviously at the end of sentences and at the end of thoughts. Read clearly. You'd be surprised, but in order to read clearly, you usually have to slow down for proper diction to really come through.
And, when you're finished recording yourself - listen to the recording. See if you can follow along to what you're reading. If not, record again.
3. Stop and ask questions.
While you're recording yourself reading, even if it's just a picture book, stop and ask questions. Leave space for your child to ponder the question you just asked. Prompt them with "Let's find out!". And then keep reading.
Remember, recording yourself is only a stand-in for if you were there with your kid reading in person. So, do what you would do together in real-time. Stop and ask questions.
4. Record a picture book in one sitting. Record one chapter at a time in a chapter book.
For longer books, don't try to sit and record the book all in one go. Stay fresh - record one chapter at a time. Plus, then you can do this weekly and when you have some free time during your day - maybe at lunch or taking a break during your workday. Try to stay one chapter ahead, if you can.
And, remember to say what chapter you're reading and the book name. This way, you can keep all of your recordings straight.
5. Thank your child for reading with you at the end of the recording.
6. Get others to record for your child too.
Just make sure that you know the entire book, even if you have guest recorders, so that when your child is ready to talk about the book - you can oblige.
Examples of reading picture books and chapter books
(recorded by me or Joe, Lily's Dad)
What a cute story! And, it's with Maurice Sendak illustrations.
The illustrations in this book allow for lots of discussions with little ones. You can also draw connections from these drawings to other books you know - (and our favorites) Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen.
Originally printed in 1963, this is a reprint from 2001. While this book's reading level is a little higher, it is appropriate for preschoolers on up.
It's my favorite picture book for New York (but I'm partial to Maurice Sendak pictures!).
Guided Reading: Level M/N
Here is an example of a parent who isn't always home for reading time, recording himself reading so Liliana can still be read to by her Daddy.
Because reading Dads are special.
This book is appropriate for toddler on up. This book is also great for introducing broader, real-life themes with older kids, too. It's the sequel to This Is Not My Hat.
Guided Reading: Level I
Sample recording coming soon
Louis Sachar is a perennial favorite of teachers. He won the Newbery Award for Holes and in almost every single school building I've worked or trained teachers, at least one teacher reads Louis Sachar with students. Just a great kids' author.
This is a book of short stories - so it'll be easy to record one story at a time. This is especially good if you want something that doesn't have a long plot-arc but is somewhat related.
Guided Reading: Level P
Sample Recording coming soon
This book is a Newbery Award winner and makes a great read-aloud with kids.
This recording is of 9 pages - the entirety of Chapter One in the book.
Guided Reading: Level V