The Three Most Important Words When Reading Aloud

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What three golden words should every parent use to keep read aloud sessions running smoothly for years to come? 

If you guessed "Listen, Stop and No" - all I can say to you is:

No, stop and listen.

What is a read aloud session in fact?

A performance.

Never forget you have an audience in front of you.

You are the entertainer. The clown, adventurer, detective, lost dog, goblin, prince and sorcerer - all wrapped up into one.

Every night you have to entertain. And the crowd can be tough.

If you make the mistake of performing a show tonight, while ignoring what the audience craves, don't be surprised if you don't sell any tickets for tomorrow's read-aloud session.

The key to keep the tickets selling is to keep in mind the three most important words for reading aloud:

1. YOU

Read-aloud sessions have to be centered around something.

Amaze your kids. Show them your Nicolaus Copernicus skills.

Displace yourself from the center of the universe.
Although most people believed the solar system revolved around the Earth, the smart money was on the Sun.

Don't make the cardinal mistake of thinking that your family's solar system revolves around parents.


The sooner you realize that the read aloud sessions revolve around your bright little Sun in the funny pajamas, you will start reaping the rewards.

It's not about what you as a parent wish to read or what you think they need. Give kids choices and let them decide.

"What do YOU want to read tonight?" is the winning question that should come out of your mouth. Every night.

And guess what? The more you do it, the more you will able to influence their choices. They will tell you what they want you to bring, but you will also be able to introduce literature that you wish.


Help your kid become an astronaut.

Don't allow the family-based Heliocentric theory (your child is the center of the family solar system) that we learnt a moment ago remain just a theory.

We need a new word to unlock a new world.

When you hear the first "Why? from your child - during a read-aloud session - light the fireworks and break out the champagne. It's an invitation to fly with him.

This is the first sign that your child wants to start exploring this new universe of life together with you on a book as your spaceship.

Don't make the mistake of ignoring a single "Why?" Ever.

To fly together ... respond quickly with a "Because".

Give your child a "Because" during read-aloud sessions as many times as he/she needs and you will sail together through the universe.

Keep always in mind, that if you don't explain it to them someone else will. And who do you want your kids to fly with?

3. YES

Have you ever noticed the great similarities between Internet surfers and children?

Both are looking for new experiences and have a desire to experience something new, you say.

True! However, the main trait they have in common is a short concentration span.

Very short.

The concentration span of kids when you start reading a book aloud at home is usually 5 seconds (a kid you don't read aloud to often) or 30 seconds (when they are read to often and if they like you).

Kids behave like experienced internet surfers who can throw one glance on a web page before clicking to leave. So build that "read-aloud presentation" with that in mind.

You wish to read to your daughter tonight?

Your all-time favorite book. Jules Vernes' Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea !

Is there a SINGLE kid in the world that would not love your favorite book? "No way!!!", you say.

Even before you started reading, your daughter has seen the book cover, the ratio of illustrations to text, font size, how outdated it seems, its size and whether it reminds her of other "boring/fun" books you read.

She already knows whether she likes it or not.

She likes you, so you now have a fleeting 30 seconds to confirm or change her opinion about the book.

You start reading:

"The year 1866 was signalized by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten. Not to mention rumors which agitated the maritime population, and excited the public mind, even in the interior of continents, seafaring men were particularly excited. Merchants, common sailors, captains of vessels, skippers, both of Europe and America, naval officers of all countries, and the Governments of several states..."

"Change the book!!!!" your daughter mumbles. [BAM! You are reeling from this surprise jab.]

What? Wait! That's the beginning. The good part is.... wait, let me skip a page...

"Another booooooooook!!!!" she screams. [BAM! Knockdown!]

It's high time to learn the third most important word of reading aloud. The sooner you learn it, the better:


An easy word.

Sometimes, it's just hard to say it.

Listen to what your little Sun says and change the book.

Say yes. When you do it, you have become the master of reading aloud.

Final note for read-aloud masters:

Magic words work in many ways. .

Don't forget to use "You" and "Because" to explain why you think the book will be interesting to your kid.

Do it often and do it properly and you will receive a "Yes" almost every time - even for books that were rejected before.

What are the magic words that you use in your house to keep the read aloud train rumbling down the tracks every day?

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