Today, I’d like to chat with you about how to make your read-alouds memorable. As a school psychologist, bibliophile, and homeschool mom, I am confident when I tell you this: Your daily read-aloud is the most important part of your entire homeschool day.
That’s right, friends. If you pick up a book and read it aloud to your kids, you are checking off the most important homeschool box. Plus, you’re connecting and making memories.
In this article, I am going to share my best tips and tricks for making your read-alouds memorable. Now, do they always need to be magical, educational, and memorable?
The most important thing is that you take the time to read-aloud. All that said, some read-alouds, for whatever reason, are better than others. And those are the ones I want to talk about today.
How to Make Read-Alouds Memorable in Your Homeschool
Let’s dive in!
Your daily read-aloud is the most important part of your entire homeschool day.
Reading aloud is the most important part of your homeschool day. It almost seems too easy, doesn’t it? The act of picking up a book and sharing a story with your children doesn’t feel like much, but it packs quite the educational punch.
When you read aloud to your children, you are serving as a reading role model. You are modeling reading fluency, proper pronunciation, and pacing. You are showering them with rich vocabulary, sophisticated language patterns, and you’re growing their fund of factual knowledge.
Better yet, you’re connecting with them over the warmth of a shared story and, by doing so, you’re creating pleasurable reading memories.
I believe homeschoolers are in a unique position when it comes to growing readers because they can preserve the sheer joy of reading in a way that can be challenging in other settings.
As homeschool parents, we can avoid the book logs, book reports, and oral presentations of our public school past. Instead, we can take the time to connect with our children over books in a way that will take learning to the next level.
By reading aloud to your children and teens daily, you are protecting and preserving the joy of reading.
We can read aloud to our children and teens and let them bask in the sheer joy of the experience. We can protect the joy of reading for our children so that they learn to associate reading with pleasure.
While we do the “heavy lifting” for our kids, we are showing them why reading is worth it! The more pleasure they experience in their early reading lives, the more they are going to want to unlock that code.
And when you love to read, you can teach yourself anything, from knitting a sock to repairing the dishwasher to creating stop-action videos.
Reading aloud to children and teens in your homeschool fosters connection and a love of stories.
Don’t worry about whether the book you are reading aloud is an “educational” one. Do not worry about how many chapters you do or don’t complete in a given week. Don’t worry about the time spent reading, or about the time spent answer questions.
You are doing the most important thing and you are connecting with your children and teens.
Guess what? In my experience, connected kiddos tend to be more content and cooperative!
Here’s How to Make Read-Alouds Both Educational and Memorable
The first way to make your read-alouds memorable is to make them interactive.
Here are some ways you can make your next read-aloud more interactive:
- Introduce the story before you begin. Share why you selected the book. Here’s an example:
- “Your auntie said she loved this book when she was your age and I’ve never read it. I thought we could read it together!”
- Research the author before you begin and share a fun fact with your children. Here’s an example:
- “Do you want to hear a funny story? One time E.B. White was invited to an event that he did not wish to attend. Do you know what he wrote in response? He wrote, ‘Thanks for your letter inviting me to join the committee of the Arts and Sciences for Eisenhower. I must decline, for secret reasons.'”
- As you read, take time to answer questions. Yes, interruptions can be frustrating but when they are related to the text, they can be fantastic learning opportunities.
- Similarly, if you are reading and you come across a vocabulary word, phrase, location, etc., that you think is unfamiliar to your children, pause to look it up. Here’s an example:
- “Oh, I love the word querulous and you don’t hear it that often. Do you know what it means?”
- Chat about the book! You don’t need to lecture or have any sort of lengthy discussion, but allow conversations to pop up throughout the week. Here’s an example:
- “You guys looked like you were having a blast sledding! One time you went so fast that I was worried you’d end up like Trille and Lena!”
Do you need to make *every* read-aloud both educational and memorable?
No, you do not.
As I mentioned earlier, your daily read-aloud is the most important part of your homeschool day. Clearing space for a daily read-aloud is essential. By taking the time to connect with your children and teens over a book, you are checking off the most important part of your homeschool day.
Anything extra is just… extra!
It doesn’t even matter what books you read-aloud.
Truly. The most important thing is to read aloud to your children and to read something enjoyable for all. The goal is to get completely lost in the story.
Remember: If you want your children to love to read, you have to let them read what they love.
I encourage you to read silly books. Read the books you loved as a child and share those stories with your children. And try to sit back and enjoy the ride. You’ll never regret the time spent connecting as a family over a good book.
Your daily read-aloud is the most crucial part of your homeschool day because it allows you to connect with your children and teens and, in doing so, you are preserving and protecting the sheer joy of reading.
You do not need to make every read-aloud memorable. And when you do make a read-aloud memorable, it can spontaneous.
Don’t make things complicated for yourself. Sometimes, the best homeschool ideas are the simplest ones!
Take, for example, this day:
Or, check out this example:
How to Make Read-Alouds Memorable in Your Homeschool
It can be fun to take your read-aloud to the next level by creating fun, hands-on extension activities that incorporate academic areas.
Now, remember- You do not need to make every read-aloud educational. I certainly don’t!
When do I try to make a read-aloud memorable in our homeschool?
- When a particular book is an absolutely magical read-aloud experience. Our most recent example of this is the book Adventures with Waffles. (More on that in a minute!)
- When I have the mental capacity to do so.
That last bullet point is super important, friends. Let’s face it, some homeschool seasons are more challenging than others. A recent example of the year 2020. You can bet we had fewer memorable read-aloud moments in 2020 than in other years. And do you know what? That’s okay.
The wonderful thing about creating a simple, sustainable read-aloud routine is that it can help you accomplish the most important thing even on the crappiest of days in the cruddiest of seasons!
Examples of How to Make Read-Alouds Memorable From Our Homeschool
Our most recent example of making a read-aloud memorable is reading Adventures with Waffles followed by waffle making:
Oh my word, you guys.
If you are looking for a super engaging, extra hilarious, and incredibly memorable book, this is it.
This book had us cry-laughing. And boy did we need cry-laughing as we tried to leave 2020 behind. This is a book you don’t want to put down. It’s hilarious and at times sad, but the even sad parts are infused with humor.
My oldest is almost 13, my daughter is 11, and my youngest is 9-years-old and every single one loved this book. Whenever I’d stop, they’d plead in unison, “Can we read one more chapter?!”
And yet, we didn’t want it to end. And when it was finished, we were in book mourning.
When a read-aloud is magical, and when I have the mental capacity to do so, I try to sprinkle in some extras to make it memorable.
Finishing Adventures with Waffles called for waffle making! Cooking or baking something related to the story is one of our family’s favorite ways to make read-alouds memorable.
As my kiddos made the waffles, I placed an order at our local bookstore for another Maria Parr book called Astrid the Unstoppable. And we started it the next day.
If you are a fan of Adventures with Waffles, I want you to know that Maria Parr is coming to Read-Aloud Revival for a live author event in late February 2021. To say we are excited would be a gargantuan understatement!
We have decided that we’re going to keep on reading super funny books until we dust of the 2020 dust that is still sticking to us.
Adventures with Waffles was a great book and we read it at the perfect time. We so badly needed to get lost in a story of hilarity and adventure. It grew our hearts!
Because of this, we’ve decided we are only going to read silly books aloud for the time being. After a year like 2020, we need to continue to focus on hearts over heads.
And, like I said, reading aloud is the most important part of your entire homeschool day. This is true even if you are reading the silliest of silly books!
It’s important to connect in challenging seasons. Reading silly books aloud can be a wonderful way to distract your hearts and minds from events happening in the world.
More Examples of How to Make Read-Alouds Memorable From Our Homeschool
I have countless examples of super-simple ways we’ve made read-alouds memorable. Remember- the best ideas are often the simplest ones! Here are more real-life examples for you…
Create simple read-aloud traditions based on events or holidays:
In our family, we read Snowflake Bentley and The Snowy Day on our very first snow day of the season. This sounds silly and too simple, but creating simple read-aloud traditions create a family culture of books and reading!
Similarly, we read Cranberry Thanksgiving every November and Cranberry Christmas every December. And we make the recipes and participate in related art activities thanks to Nana over at You ARE An Artist Chalk Pastel!
It is a family tradition to read these beloved stories, draw Mister Whiskers with Nana, and bake cranberry goodies.
And speaking of Nana from You ARE An Artist Chalk Pastel…
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, followed by baking Nana’s apple pie and chalk pastel art:
I can’t tell you how many times we have done this- probably a half dozen times- but we love to read the book How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, create art based on the book with our chalk pastels, and then bake NANA’S apple pie rather than use the recipe in the book.
Nana’s apple pie is delicious and she shares it with everyone during the art lesson!
Clearly, our family loves to make books memorable via our tummies and art, but we do use other resources!
Jim Arnonsky author study followed by hikes and animal tracking:
This is one of my favorite memories of reading aloud to my children. One fall, several years ago, my children became interested in all of Jim Arnonsky’s books. (If you love nature, you must read Arnonsky’s books! So, so good.)
One morning, during Coffee and Books, we read the book Wild Tracks! and had a lively conversation about various animal tracks. My children were still little and they decided that they wanted to go for a hike and find all the tracks that Arnonsky had in his book.
What high expectations, right!?
But here’s the thing… It had just rained and it was muddy out. I figured we would find something in our travels. Well, did we ever!
We visited our favorite nature center and discovered a print in less than 10 minutes of hiking. A bear print! You can see it in the (not super high quality) photo below.
This was such an unexpected and magical moment for my children. They immediately asked me to photograph the print and to send it to a teacher friend. This teacher friend was so excited and asked us where we had found the print. For the next week, until it rained again, she brought all of her students to see the print. She said it was the best bear print she’d ever seen.
I want to remind you that you can make books memorable just by following your children’s interests and allowing for some spontaneity. If I had stuck to the original homeschool plan that day, we would have missed this magical moment!
To this day, we love Arnonsky’s work and my kids are currently 12.5, 11, and 9-years-old.
Little Leaders Bold Women in Black History followed by YouTube videos and art:
Here’s another example of spontaneous learning. During the summer of 2020, we read one chapter from Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History every single morning during Coffee and Books.
And each day, we’d dive down a spontaneous rabbit hole related to that day’s biography. This was not planned. I didn’t have supplies at the ready. But we learned a ton and made memories together.
We wanted documentaries, YouTube videos, read articles, listened to songs, and – yes- created more art. In the photo above, you can see my oldest’s attempt to create art in the style of Alma Thomas.
If your children are captivated by a certain book, as my children were with this one, take the time to pause and explore further. You could google, ask Alexa, visit YouTube, or head to the library and gather more books.
So much learning happens when we relax and let it. Plus, when children learn about something they are interested in, they retain more!
We love to have an author study, read all of the author’s books, and then watch the movies.
This is a super simple way to take your read-aloud to the next level. Our most recent example is from a year or so ago when we read Some Writer, a biography of E.B. White. Then, I read each E.B. White book aloud to my children. When we finished each book, we’d watch the movie. Years ago, we had a similar author study based on Roald Dahl’s books.
If your children love a certain author, consider a simple author study. You never know where it might take you!
American Tall Tales followed by playing the game Tall Tales and writing our own tall tales:
This is an old one, but it is one of my favorite memories. Years ago, my children were obsessed with Mary Pope Osborne, of Magic Treehouse fame.
I decided to see what other books she had written, and we stumbled upon American Tall Tales. My kids loved these stories.
They loved the stories so much that they started writing their own! Well, my big kids started writing their own stories. My youngest dictated his stories to me and I wrote them down for him.
To take the learning even further, we started playing Tall Tales daily and sharing our own verbal stories.
When I borrowed Tall Tales from the library, I did not expect it to fuel verbal and written stories for weeks. Sometimes, you try to make a read-aloud magical, and other times your children do all the work!
You can even homeschool an entire subject based on a fantastic book and some supplemental activities. I call this approach a “Lazy Unit Study” and it is one of our favorite homeschool-y things!
During the winter of 2019, we homeschooled science and nature using two fantastically delicious reference books and CuriosityStream.
You can read all about it here.
And, as I type this, we are in the midst of a Lazy Unit Study on birds. We’re reading oodles of delicious bird books and enjoying many different extension activities.
My children received the game Wingpan for Christmas, in addition to a book featuring bird poetry.
Because they are interested in birds right now- all three of them- and I know a rabbit trail when I see one!
Let’s face it, the past year-plus has been a very difficult one. Please don’t make your homeschooling journey harder than it needs to be right now.
Don’t be afraid to follow your child’s lead and pursue delight-driven learning at this time. It will lighten moods and make memories. And, because your child is interested, she will retain more information!
Your read-aloud is the most important part of your daily homeschooling routine.
By picking up a book and reading aloud to your children and teens each day, you are checking off the most important homeschool task.
It may sound too simple, but the best ideas are often the simplest ones.
Reading aloud to your children and teens allows you to connect and to make memories. Better yet, you are protecting the joy of a story and the joy of reading when you read-aloud.
And by protecting the joy of reading, we are raising lifelong learners. Because, let’s face it, if you love to read, you can teach yourself anything!
Do you need help choosing delicious books for your next read-aloud?
If you’re at a loss as to what to read aloud to your children, you’re going to want to check out the booklists we created at the Kindred Conference! I asked all attendees two questions:
- What is the book that made you (or your child, if you have a child who loves to read) a reader?
- What is the best book you’ve read- for yourself!- in the last five years?
The Kindred community did not disappoint; I had to create four booklists based on all of their incredible recommendations!
Click on the Image Below to Join the MLP Family Book Club:
How to Rock THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of Your Homeschool Day
Reading aloud is the most important part of your entire homeschool day and I’d love to show you how to knock your daily read-aloud straight out of the park. I have poured my book-loving heart and soul into a digital course called How to Rock THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of Your Homeschool Day.
In this course, you will learn how to create a simple, sustainable read-aloud routine that will work for YOUR unique family.
How to Rock THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of Your Homeschool Day features actionable, downloadable tools and resources to help you take your daily read-alouds to the next level.
Learn why reading aloud is the most important part of your entire homeschool day, how to raise readers, the types of readers, how to cultivate a love of reading in your home, how to maximize your library trips, how to document reading, common stumbling blocks, and so much more.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Creating a simple, sustainable read-aloud routine can help you to accomplish the most important thing on even the trickiest of days in the most challenging homeschool seasons.
This course has the power to transform your homeschool environment TODAY.
What you’ll get:
- Over 20 video lessons
- Each lesson includes video, audio download, transcript, lesson handout, and related PDF resources
- Actionable printable resources to help take your read-alouds to the next level
- Access to an incredible resource library
Want a sneak peek? Click here!
Join us today and rock your read-alouds tomorrow!
My Favorite Books to Help Support Homeschool Parents on Their Read-Aloud Journey
As a school psychologist, homeschool mom, and book nerd, I have oodles of favorite books. In the following article, I share many of my favorite books for growing readers.
- The Best Books for Growing Readers in Your Homeschool | My Little Poppies
Here are some of my favorite books for raising readers:
- The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child
- The Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition
- Reading Magic
- The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids
- Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits
Additional Read-Aloud Resources for Homeschooling Families
- The Ultimate List of Books by Subject: A Resource Page for Homeschool Families
- Rock Your Read Alouds with This Simple Trick
- How to Keep Kids Busy and Happy While You Read Aloud