8 Ways to Start the Read Aloud Train (... after kids pull the emergency brake)

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It is known as "the nightmare scenario".

Nobody likes to talk about it.

It just happens one day.

Yes, when a child refuses to be read aloud to, that is the end of it.

Heck, even my kids give me the cold shoulder from time to time.

Yet, many parents still wonder.

What if?

So they try to continue their read aloud sessions.

And they try again.

Yet they keep staring rejection in the face.

It can't be so difficult, I hear you say.

But we parents sometimes hit a wall.

Many of us test our entire arsenal and kids still say no.

We try everything: endearment, pleading, threats, bribes and emotional blackmail ... and we still can't win.

It could happen to you one day. 

Yes, THAT is the nightmare scenario.

The good news is ... there is a way out.

Reading aloud is the crown of a good relationship 

         A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge. 
         Thomas Carlyle 

Even if you are full of enthusiasm for reading aloud and even if you lined up the best picture and chapter books in your home - don't think that victory is around the corner.

Often your kid couldn't care less.

So, if you want to start a read aloud tradition in your family, the first thing you have to do is - stop trying to do it.

Try to do something else.

Here are Read Aloud Dad's tips to get your family back on the Read Aloud highway:

1. Listen

This has nothing to do with reading. It has all to do with your daily life.

Before anyone is ready to listen, they like to be heard. Heard a lot.

So, take rejection in your stride and start listening. Instead of reading aloud, why don't you ask the child what he would like to do ... and then do it together.

2. Invest time

There is that old adage that for children L.O.V.E. is spelled T.I.M.E.

Yes, children know that your time is valuable and they value it even more than you know.

They are aware that you sacrifice a lot for their future, but they still want a bit of that one-on-one time.

So, it doesn't have to be reading aloud.

Start by spending more time together doing "nothing".

3. Laugh together .... a lot

Children are bags of laughter - you just need to tickle the right spot.

Figuratively and literally.

Laughing helps the right hormones flow through both of your bodies.

Laughter is medicine.

Plus, a smile or two can do wonders for a relationship.

4. Say what would make you happy ... out loud!

Reading aloud isn't all about building a great vocabulary among our youngsters.

It is not about giving them a head start in school. 

Its about making children content.

But, reading aloud is an activity that should make you (the parent) happy too.

And too often children don't know it.

Don't be afraid to tell your kids how happy you would be to enjoy the latest classic or comic together with them!

They will never know if you don't tell them! Just mention it.

Don't ask to read it out loud.

Kids love to make their parents happy (just trust me on this one) :-)

5. Give choice and ... more choice!

One of the problems could be that you are hogging the family with your personal "read aloud" wish list.

Instead, let your child choose what you are going to read together. But don't offer 2 books, why don't you offer 20?

Or better yet, go to the library or book store together and choose from 2000 possible books.

Or from 2 million on the Internet.

Abdicate the power of choice to your listener and you might be surprised with the enthusiastic reception!

6. Have fun reading

Ah yes! 

The rule of rules. 

If you start reading aloud and your reading sessions are as interesting as United Nations TV, well ... you won't go places. 

Let your hair down. You have to become a kid again. 

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

7. Become a Read Aloud Ninja


Stop laughing. 

This is not a joke. 

I'm serious. 

It is a stealth super power that has to be used with care. 

Just don't say I didn't warn you!

I see you snickering. 


OK. I admit it. 

I cheated.

I did say "eight ways" in the title. 

So, why don't you fill in the missing tip?

What is your own time trusted way of starting the read aloud train in your house?


  1. I think all kids enjoy reading together so maybe you can switch to shared reading as they get older.

  2. Great advice PragmaticMom!

    Indeed - sharing the responsibility for reading is a fantastic way to break any monotony that can creep up in family read alouds...


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