Do You Wreck Read Aloud Time With These 4 Common Mistakes?

Admit it.

You’ve seen the pictures of happy, snuggling children listening to a book being read or heard about the deep discussions and family bonding that happens when parents read to their children and thought, “I want that too. I’m going to make time in our home school schedule for read aloud time. I can do this.”

So you give family reading time a try.

But it doesn’t look like the pictures or work like the stories. Instead, your youngest is running around chasing the dog. Your middle child looks bored, and when you ask your oldest a question about the paragraph you’ve just read, he just grunts and says, “I don’t know.”

Definitely not what you envisioned. However, don’t give up.

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child." ~ Dr. Seuss


Don’t throw away the chance to connect with your child, build her vocabulary, and instill a passion for stories. Instead, see if you made one of these simple mistakes that can wreck read aloud time.

1. Choosing the Wrong Book

Okay, in reality, there really isn’t a wrong book. However, some books are better than others. Make this time special by choosing exceptional books. Select a classic that you’ve been meaning to read or an appropriate Newberry Award winner. Begin a series that you loved as a child like the Chronicles of Narnia, the Little House series, or Lord of the Rings.

For a steady supply of the right books, rely on a literature-rich homeschool curriculum like BookShark. It's full of titles that have passed the test with thousands of parents and even more children!

Choose something you think your children will enjoy, and as they become more invested in family reading time, let them help pick the books.

2. Reading a Book that is Too Hard/Easy

When deciding on a book to read, don’t go strictly by what your children currently read. Keep in mind that most people can understand books above their independent reading level when those books are read aloud. Challenge your young learners with stories that are a bit beyond what they can read on their own.

With BookShark curriculum, Readers are chosen based on a child's independent reading ability, but Read-Alouds (the books you read to your children) are at a much more advanced level. Because you're reading it aloud, your childen can handle much more advanced books. 

Do You Wreck Read Aloud Time With These 4 Common MistakesAlthough your children may not understand everything they hear, he should have a fair handle on the storyline and characters. Discussions as a family can enrich the understanding even further.

If, after a chapter or two, your child cannot answer basic questions about what he just heard, it might be too advanced for him right now. You can try that title again in six months to a year.

3. Stopping Frequently

Did you stop multiple times during a chapter to define words or explain what was happening? Frequent breaks in a story will disrupt the flow, making it harder to follow along and comprehend.

Try not to stop during a chapter unless your kids aren't following along or are thoroughly confused. If you can, wait until the end of the chapter to discuss. Often their questions will be answered with more reading.

When you come to vocabulary you think they may not know, say the word, along with a synonym. Remember that we frequently understand a word’s meaning through the context of a sentence and story, and you actually don't have to define every new word. Or you can make a small mark in the book to revist later once the day's reading is complete.

4. Forcing your Child to Sit Still

Not all children listen best when they’re sitting perfectly still. While you read, consider letting your child color, pet the dog, sit on an exercise ball, etc.

As long as she is participating and comprehending, there’s no harm in letting her active body move as long as it is quiet and not terribly distracting to others.

Reading aloud as a family is a wonderful activity that many homeschooling families enjoy as part of their curriculum or merely for recreation. If you've been struggling trying to figure out how to make it a success in your home, hopefully, you'll consider giving it another try and sidestep these mistakes.

See BookShark Reading with History Programs