Remember, You Are Not Alone!

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Reading aloud on a daily basis can sap your strength.

Every afternoon - you feel a little bit more tired when you have to start reading aloud.

It starts building up.

A fight breaks out among your children over which book will be chosen for a read aloud tonight...

You have to convince your hyperactive audience to settle down...

And - getting through just the first page... I won't get you started on that one.

These are all challenges that can take twenty to thirty minutes of preparations on a good day.

Many things conspire to make reading aloud an unbearable daily chore.

But don't give up.

We all face these challenges. I do to.

But there is a silver lining that makes it all much easier.


Reading aloud - pleasure or chore?

As my twins get older, reading aloud involves more trials and struggles.

Not less.

One child can be fully focused, but if the other one isn't - the read aloud session soon goes downhill for all involved.

I know what you are asking yourself sometimes.

If reading aloud is supposed to be a source of fulfillment and satisfaction, why does it rob my strength and energy so often?

This happens easily, especially if your listeners lose connection with the story.

One tactic I employ when reading chapter books: I always re-read the last page or half-page of what we last read a day or two ago. And then I also sum up the situation before we continue reading.

It makes it easier for the listener to get back in the mood of the story and to re-connect.


Another trick of the trade

Let me share another trick of the trade. 

We never read one chapter book at a time. Kids can get bored easily. 

The same old story, day in and day out - is a bit too much for them.

So we usually read three or four chapter books at the same time. (not the same day!)

For example, right now we are reading (concurrently): 

d. any given book from the Horrid Henry collection

This is without mentioning the Jack and Annie books from the Magic Tree House boxed set.

And this works perfectly.

Boredom is banished to a distant realm, as every day we read a "fresh" chapter book.

Rotation, rotation. 

This may be a recipe that does not work for other families, but I find it is perfect for our household. 

Inspiration is all around

Every parent can have the desire to read daily.

It comes from within.

But inspiration comes from around us.

You cannot read aloud to your kids for the long haul without inspiration.

My true sources of inspiration are you.

Parents and teachers who just do it.

People who lead by example.

I am still a newcomer to this game. I've been reading aloud for the past three or four years.

But I am inspired by so many parents and grandparents who leave comments on my blog, telling me how they read to their kids until they left their homes or how they are reading to their grandchildren now.

Teachers and librarians who are trying to improve the prospects of the children at their schools. 

Sadly, in my day-to-day life, I do not know other dads who read aloud to their kids on a daily basis. 

I'm not saying that they don't - I just never hear anyone telling me about it.

There is no read aloud excitement among many parents. 

People around me do not know that I am "the Read Aloud Dad", so the topic of reading aloud never crops up spontaneously. 

My friends know that I like to read aloud to my kids. But that's it. No one else tells me they are doing it. 

OK, admittedly I also do not have much of a social life these days - so my sample is not so large. 

That is why what I told you before is true - YOU really inspire me.

I crave this inspiration.

I need real people to inspire me.

Take, for example, Lauren. 

A mom of two who says that "few things are more important than taking time to snuggle up and read a good book with our kids".

Lauren left me a very inspiring message in the comments section of my blog, two weeks ago.

Her words helped me to connect again with my own motivation for reading aloud.

Yes, her dedication is inspiring. 

Lauren is not just a great mom who reads to her kids - but she also has a wonderful children's book blog that is deep, critical and earnest. 

Her blog - 365 Great Children's Books - is guaranteed to fire you up for reading for as long as you need! 

What a wonderful tribute to children's books and reading. Lauren has reached Day (book) 197 - so you have a treasure trove of great books reviewed on her blog!

Thanks Lauren for getting in touch with me. Your inspiration is infectious!
  

And what about Rodrigo?

Two months ago, a message popped up on my screen.

It was from Rodrigo Morlesin.

I didn't know Rodrigo, but I felt he was an old friend of mine!

I was bowled over by Rodrigo's message.
"I am from Mexico City and I'm a children's books designer. 
I write about children books too in the Mexican newspaper Reforma and in the Spanish magazine Babar. 
If you want to read some of my interviews with authors (Lemony Snicket, Eric Carle, Satoshi Kitamura, Katsumi Komagata, Adam Rex... and some more) please go to 
Chum!  
The interviews are in Spanish but if you want to read it in English I can send it to you.
Thank you for promoting children's books!
Hugs from Mexico"

I checked it out and Wow!

Rodrigo's blog Chum! had some exceptional interviews with fabulous KidLit authors and illustrators!

You are a very special man Rodrigo. ¡Sí! Estoy pensando en ti. 

So my friends, if you can read or understand Spanish, please visit Chum! One of the posts about Maurice Sendak is also available in English.

Rodrigo knows I adored his playful interview with Lemony Snicket.

So, let me close this segment with Rodrigo's words -  they will give you a glimpse into how dedicated he is.

Lemony's interview is one of my favorites too... I spent a lot of time looking for him. And Eric Carle and Cornelia Funke was difficult too. 
In March I will publish an interview with Tonya Hurley (Ghostgirl) but Satoshi Kitamura was on vacation at our home in Mexico so I invited to him too and we made some games for Tonya's interview... was strange and funny.
You are an exceptional and interesting man, my friend Rodrigo!

Your love of children's books is infectious! 

Thanks for getting in touch and inspiring Read Aloud Dad :-)

Give an incredible gift - one word at a time

So, my friends, if you find yourself doubting whether your reading aloud really matters, don't worry - it is normal.

I find myself doubting the quality of my efforts all the time.

But usually for a brief period.

Everyone needs inspiration.

Reading aloud is like counting steps with a pedometer. If you keep looking at the screen, you will be discouraged.

It takes time to reach ten thousand steps.

It usually lasts much longer if you keep glancing at the screen.

The trick with reading aloud is to find your source of inspiration and focus on the next ten minutes.

And that is just what it takes to change a life.

Just ten minutes a day, every day.

To inspire a young human being.



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16 comments:

  1. Emma @ My Book CornerMarch 16, 2013 at 1:16 AM

    I love this post. Full of inspiration - I shall be tweeting and google+ing it!


    I like your idea of having more than one chapter book on the go at one time.

    My husband and I take it in turns to read to the children - so they always get an equal share ... it's a great way to model reading. We are lucky that we are able to fit that in, most of the time.

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  2. Hi Emma!

    It is fabulous that your kids can enjoy listening to both parents! As you said, it is the best way to model reading (boys especially benefit from seeing their dads read aloud).

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share this post!

    A big big hug from

    Read Aloud Dad



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  3. I am always happy to get your posts with recommended books in my email box! You are not the only one out there reading to your children! I normally have my library card maxed out at 75 books (mostly for children's books). I find it a shame that so many of the books on the shelves and new books coming out are a waste of time and no fun to read. I also am sad that it seems like some of the older books with such good stories are hard to find through the library- they are being discarded for the more popular "twaddle". I love children's book lists and book blogs like yours because I want quality, enjoyable books to read to my children ages 9, 8 and 6. I read to them for about a half hour everyday and my husband will a few times a week as well. Keep posting book reviews- I truly appreciate it!

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  4. I love your writing and sharing about the passion of reading aloud. Thank you, thank you.
    There were times in our home that we had a family agreement that a given book (Winn Dixie was one) could not be read unless all family members were present. When dad was traveling it was a bit difficult, but did make the resumption that much more delicious! When I first heard each of my children read aloud with expression and pacing as much a part of the story as the words and illustrations...my heart fluttered.

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  5. Hi Bookpusher!

    I am always surprised when I read beautiful comments like yours. It's like - Wow! Another kindred spirit somewhere in the world!

    Let me tell you - I love your read aloud rule (a given book can not be read unless all family members are present)! It makes reading aloud so much more a "family affair", not simply a daily task.

    I take a leaf out of your book. I never read chapter books aloud - to just one of my kids. It is important to make sure that we do not exclude any of our kids (or family members!)


    Loved the story about your children reading aloud with expression and pacing ... it made me emotional!


    Thanks so much for your comment!


    A big hug


    Read Aloud Dad

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  6. Thank you Amy!

    You made me laugh when you said that you often have your library card maxed out at 75 books! Wow!

    It is such a great truth that many of the books that are coming out - are pure fluff and often not better than a collection of words and sentences. The emotions are lacking. There is no depth.

    We are humans, not simple reading machines that can be satisfied with a mere hint of feeling and humanity.

    Congratulations on your joint efforts with your husband to make the childhoods of your three kids deep, emotional and more meaningful.

    Thanks for inspiring me Amy!


    A very big hug!


    Read Aloud Dad

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  7. I'm speechless! Really, Read Aloud Dad, thank you for your incredibly kind words. More importantly, though, thank you for what you do -- for us, your followers and fellow readers, and most of all, for your children! Your reading aloud to them makes more of a difference than they will ever know, and some day they'll look back so fondly on all of those times you spent curled up together with a book. Keep up the amazing work!


    I'm so humbled and thrilled that I've helped inspire you. Please know that you have done the same for me! And, for the record, my husband is usually the one who reads to our son at bedtime (while I'm in reading with our daughter.) They've been reading Magic Tree House books at a rate of about one per day :)


    Thank you again for the lovely shout out. Happy reading!


    :) Lauren

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  8. Hi Lauren,

    Thanks so much for your beautiful message and for the words of encouragement, they mean the world!

    Congratulations to your husband for playing such an integral part in your read aloud adventure.

    For the record, my wife is also a hard-working sailor on our read aloud ship!

    I can't wait to read your next book recommendations!

    You (and 365 Great Children's Books) are a light that shines to remind us what this is all about.

    A big hug from

    Read Aloud Dad

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  9. Good advice to raise readers! Keep at it. I agree!

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  10. Thanks for your words PragmaticMom,


    Your vote of confidence is much appreciated!


    Read Aloud Dad



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  11. I struggle with this issue during the storytimes that I do. Thanks Read Aloud Dad for letting me know that parents struggle too.

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  12. Hi Jacqueline,


    Thank you so much for sharing your own experiences! It can be a struggle sometimes, but we are not alone! :-)


    Plus, thanks to children's book authors for great books that make it all much easier.


    Read Aloud Dad


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  13. TobyLauren BurgessMarch 19, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    Hi! I was wondering if I could have your permission to print this post in our non-profit magazine for home schooling families? Let me know!

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  14. katherinecollins2000March 21, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    Yes, after 15 years of reading the same picture books over and over again with each new child, I'm a little weary of evening storytime. But,I know it does them good because I've got 3 older readers who have voracious appetites for books. Right now in between the little kid books for the 4 and 6 year olds we are reading Tom Sawyer, my 8 year old loves it, even with all the antiquated language and description. For school we are reading aloud stories of battles from WWII, he doesn't want me to stop,but my mouth gets all dry and cottony after 30 minutes.

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  15. Hi Katherine!

    Wow, you are amazing! No wonder that your older trio have such a voracious apetite for books - they are hooked.

    Amazing, your 8-year old is already enjoying Tom Sawyer .. that is something that I was asking myself about (the age when I can read the book to them).

    Oh, when your mouth gets all dry and cottony .. that is the sign that everything is going perfectly.

    You are an amazing mom!

    A bit hug from

    Read Aloud Dad

    PS: If you have the time, send us here a list of your all-time favorite read alouds - that are fun even after 15 years!

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  16. Hi Karen!

    Hats off to your precocious 6-year old who is a fantastic example of the incredible genius of young children.


    We are often slow to catch up with kids - they are not bound by the chains of convention as we are.

    Enjoy reading with your amazing kids, they sound adorable!


    Read Aloud Dad

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