Reading Aloud to Your Child

Dear Parents,

Modelling reading for a child – by reading to them – can be a welcome break from expecting children to always read themselves and can foster a greater love of books and reading material, giving the child a chance to relax and just enjoy the book.  It can also be a useful tool in developing a child’s vocabulary, as they may be more inclined to ask about words they don’t understand if just hearing them rather than having to decode them as well.  Reading to children can be great fun for parents or older siblings, particularly if done with enthusiasm.

BookTrust is an amazing website with lots of tips for parents, teachers and children about reading.  They spoke to Emily Guille-Marrett, a reading specialist from Reading Fairy, who gave the following tips for reading aloud to children:

1.       Deliver the story in a way that inspires – this does not mean that an Academy Award performance must accompany the reading, but think about using funny voices and varying the volume of your delivery to help engage.

2.       Read the story beforehand, so that you are aware of what the plot is and to give you ideas for your read-aloud performance.  Would reading The Gingerbread Man to your child be more engaging if you were both standing up, acting out the actions?

3.       Really look at the pictures in the book – have they got hidden clues which may fascinate the child during the read through?  Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler will often sneak illustrations of characters from previous books into new books (can your child spot any?) and Anthony Browne will often build images into the background to enhance the story.

4.       Choose a book purposefully that you think your child would be interested in – is there a character they may relate to, does the plot line match any current successes or worries that they may have?

5.       Choose books which you like – this will be personal preference but, as with all our choices in life (from the football teams we support to the food we like to eat), our choices can have a big impact on what your child might respond to. Obviously the books you choose should be suitable for the child’s age.

6.       Some books will lend themselves really well to being read aloud while others may not.  If you choose a book which, after the first few pages or chapters, feels like it would be better if the child reads it themselves, it is fine to move the child onto reading that text themselves, while you move on to another text next time which better suits being read aloud.  Libraries, book awards and reading lists can help you find the perfect book for you and your child to enjoy together.

To read the full article, and for recommendations for lots of books which are perfect for reading aloud to your child, follow this link:

Other great articles on the BookTrust website, also providing tips for reading aloud, include:

Including the excellent tip to read and re-read favourite stories to children. We all have our most memorable childhood book, which we read and re-read, and this reinforces the message that literacy is fun.

This link provides video links showing great examples of how to read engagingly to your child.


On week commencing 1st April, our weekly reading tip bulletin on developing emotional literacy in children recommended Mark Haddon’s award-winning book, ‘The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time’.  Whilst this book is recommended on many children’s reading lists, the content of the book contains the occasional expletive and is therefore only suitable for older children (Year 6 and above) withparental guidance.

Burford Reading Team