How To Become A Read-Aloud Ninja

Pin It

Do you want to become a Read-Aloud Ninja?

I never knew they existed until yesterday.

The word "ninja" in kanji script
Like any martial art, you have to perfect your technique if you aim to master the art.


Yes, this is the art of breaking down the walls that separate you from your listener without moving a single finger.

To become a Read Aloud Ninja you must believe that reading children's books has the power to move mountains.

It really does. Just look at Tom Matlack who courageously admitted that reading Dr. Seuss turned around his life as a Chief Financial Officer in a major company.

He made the mistake of trying to run a company with 3000 employees without becoming a Read Aloud Ninja first.

But, wait, we are getting off track.

Do you want to know what it takes to get a read-aloud black belt?

The process of becoming a read-aloud master can be broken down into four simple stages.

1. Beginner Stage

If you feel silly reading a children's book aloud - even when no one else is in the room, make no mistake, you are still on the first rung of read-aloud mastery.

It's that funny feeling that you had during school plays, all over again.

Only this time, you are the star of a play with no director, no supporting actors, no scenery.

Listen. Do you think your voice sounds strange when you read aloud?

Don't worry - it does.

Maybe it will sound better if we get the kids in the room.

2. Ultimate Fight Stage

You must approach your first read-aloud sessions, like you would enter an ultimate fight match.

George (Knockout) Brown of Chicago (LOC)
Ultimate fights usually end either in submission (one opponent clearly submits) or knockout (an opponent is put into a state of unconsciousness).

In the beginning you may have to submit frequently to your restless kid and stop reading when he gets bored with your uninspiring delivery.
Keep training. All hope is not lost.

As your bedtime technique improves and your kid gets used to your voice - you will be proud how often you are able to put your "opponent" in a state of unconsciousness!

It is time to feel proud indeed.

You are now ready to move on to the next stage.

3. "Undiscovered Star" stage

Yes, you are feeling comfortable now.

You've been reading for some time now to your amazed audience.

It's almost magic. The kid swallows your every word ... and his interest (and eyes) gets bigger every day.

You feel like an undiscovered Ted Williams, the homeless guy with the golden radio voice.

Where is the Columbus Dispatch now to help you "go viral" you as you hypnotise your young listener every night? Where is the camera to recor......


Things change in a second when your wife/husband enters the room. The self-confidence evaporates as if in a puff of smoke... You are self-aware again.

Tom Cruise on MTV Live in December 2008As soon as your wife enters, all the bravado, the funny voices, the flapping of your arms and legs that seemed so Tom Cruise when you were alone in the room with your kid ... evaporate.

You unmistakeably read in her eyes: "My friends were right all along, he is a weirdo".

But keep going. All is not lost.

Simply continue making a jackass out of yourself in front of the kids - and your read-aloud performance will improve.

Next time it will be your friend, mother, father-in-law who walk in on your energetic read-aloud session ... you will feel awkward.

But every time, less and less so.

Weirdo or not, the kids love it!!

Yes, you are starting to behave like a real star!

Boy, before you know it ..... it's graduation time again.

4. Read-Aloud Ninja stage

The mysterious nature of the ninja has long captured popular imagination in Japan and the world.

Some legendary abilities include invisibility, walking on water, and control over natural elements.

OK, forget the last two.

Concentrate on invisibility. It provides you with the first and foremost clue of your new status as a Read-Aloud Ninja.


Remember this rule. I will never repeat it.

You will become a true Read-Aloud Ninja the first time when all of the following five conditions are fulfilled:

ninja1. "BLACK CLOTHES" - you find yourself in a public arena (bus, picnic, airport, etc.) where you read aloud to your kids in full exhilaration - in the presence of other people.

No one glances at you twice. Your enthusiasm looks normal. You blend.

2. SILENCE - during your reading session you don't hear anything - except the squeals of pleasure from your kids. Nothing else that is happening around you is audible

3. INVERSE STEALTH - your kids no longer see that their ice cream is melting, Santa Claus just arrived - no one cares, chocolate cakes are being served but the kids ignore them, their favourite cartoon is on.... your dear little pumpkin turns off the TV just to hear "one more chapter".

They are spellbound with your reading.

4. SKILLS IN ALL TYPES OF COMBAT - you honed your skills with the help of a range of books. From picture books to chapter books, from wordless books to poetry.

You know all the techniques. You can correctly estimate the weight of a picture book treasury in  less than half a second. You know which books will be chosen by your kids for tonight's reading session although it is still breakfast time. You are a master of all trades.

5. BEING NINJA - suddenly - in a fleeting second while turning a page - you detect in your kid's loving gaze that he was convinced all along you were his own Read-Aloud Ninja.

This realization floors you. You are overpowered with emotions.

Yesterday, for a second, I was convinced that I reached Ninja status.

Now, I'm no longer so sure. (Was my mind playing tricks on me?)

Does anyone know what comes after this level?

If you enjoyed this post, click here to get free updates by email.


  1. Thanks so much Nicole, my inspiration comes from loyal readers like you! 

    You are the epitome of true love for children's books. 

    When you look at - if you look on every page and every post, one can see your reflection.

    Your comments have always been a true inspiration!

    Read Aloud Dad


  2. Ninjas are awesome. Read Aloud Ninjas? Fantastic!! You are an excellent Sensei to all of us who aspire to such lofty goals :)

  3. You will indeed Brenna!

    I forgot to say that all Ninja aspirants get there one day! ;-)

    It's the daily practice that gets you there, like in all martial arts. 

    Thanks for leaving a comment!

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @50a3500ad7a1dc7aaae954fa91439702 

  4. I may not be a ninja yet, but we are getting there!

  5. Alison, 

    Thanks so much for your words of support! 

    Indeed, as you say, reading aloud is a performance. 

    We are all able to give a Oscar-worthy performance on the home stage ... so lets read aloud and I guarantee you will hear the words:

    "And the winner is..." 

    Reading aloud is a game where everyone wins!.


    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @81460b3dbf12aed7c03a7fb3588a313f 

  6. Great post. I think reading aloud is giving a performance. Everyone gets more out it, the pages come alive and the reader and listeners alike are transported. Good job!

  7. Mimi, sounds like you know a real Read Aloud Ninja ... in person!

    She may be able to give us some tips on what comes after Ninja status.  

    When you see her next time, please tell her that you know she is a Ninja and that there is no need to hide it any longer... 

    If she denies that she is a Ninja, that's all the proof we need! ;-)

    But seriously, I'm not such a fab reader... she sounds really exciting! Lucky kids that she reads to!

    Thanks for your comment!

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @a505237bf4af53e4f97a21bb77ffa91e 

  8. Renee thanks so much for visiting!

    Don't worry about stumbling when you read aloud ... your kids adore your reading! They never notice. Elements of Ninja status :-)

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

    Read Aloud Dad

    RE: Renee Huggins 

  9. Thanks thedamselindisdress!

    I admit I'd love to have that same inspiration (like I wrote this post) every day.

    Thanks for leaving a comment. 

    BTW, you are a ninja, I can sense... :-)

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: thedamselindisdress 

  10. That's hysterical! I have a friend who is an AMAZING read-aloud person. She puts her emotions into her characters and changes the inflections in her voice. She rarely misses a word or flubs one!

  11. I love this post....stumbled!

    I used to have two Read-Aloud-Ninjas, but the older one crossed over to the dark side called puberty and they don't look favorably on Read-Aloud-Ninjas there...I've been told.

    I am hoping he will see the light and comes back soon....

  12. Love this! Stumbled from BF.

    I hate reading out loud because I stumble a lot and mess words up. I think it is because my brain is a lot faster than my mouth. But, my kids never notice. They love it when I read to them! Of course, that may change when they start learning how to read. But, until then, I'll keep pretending that I meant to say a line or two backwards.

  13. hahaha love this post! The pictures, too.

  14. I am a teacher and just spent 2 weeks teaching my students to read aloud with expression and emphasizing overexaggeration.  We practiced reading out loud to our classmates and culminated in reading to the grade 1 class.  The kids in grade 1 commented that the students were better readers than the teachers because they were more fun--sweet success!  It works--never be afraid to be the ultimate actor/actress with your children when story telling--everyone loves it.

  15. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! 

    Indeed, reading aloud with expression is a ticket to success! 

    I love your words: "Never be afraid to be the ultimate actor/actress with your children when story telling--everyone loves it!"

    A great lesson for all of us!

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @acd0a4fb2072af72b516150629e218a1 

  16. This thing may not that useful nowadays especially that there are some people who were using some things that will lead them into something good and beneficial. It's still nice that they create this kind of thing in order to support someone in improving their skills and their techniques.