read it ALOUD!

read it ALOUD!



Tea to clear away, washing to sort, emails to answer, a glass of wine urgently calling…
reading stories to our little ones at bedtime is such an iconic image of perfect parenting, and yet there are so many demands on our busy, weary, running-out-steam evenings.
The expectant pile of books looks so huge! And, when there’s also – as shown above – a toy mouse requesting his book of cheeses read aloud too, it’s quite an undertaking.
Read it Daddy‘s rallying call in his campaign to get mums and dads reading aloud to their children has really struck a chord with lots of us. I particularly recommend a read of the posts on Library MiceLittle Wooden Horse and Child Led Chaos and their take on the subject.

For what it’s worth, this is what worked for me…
For tiny tots, reading books after breakfast when everyone is fresh, not just at night.
Giving it lots of colour – funny voices, jumping up and making a fool of myself – it IS a performance of sorts, after all.
Books aren’t ‘good for you’ like vegetables – they’re wild creatures you’re letting loose.
Not worrying at all about sticking to age-appropriate books: mysterious ‘grown-up’ words wash over you like music when you’re small, and there’s nothing more comforting than an old favourite picture book when you’re big. (you might have noticed – if you ask a writer what age group their book is for, they come out in hives, mumble a non-committal answer and try to leave the room)
For school age children it’s getting really vital: listening to stories and drifting away from the institutionalised noisy confines of the day onto the wilder shores of the imagination (homework can jolly well wait).
Allow THEM to choose when it stops. Sharing adult books with young people and teenagers is an adventure and a privilege. One of the last books I read aloud – I kid you not – was War and Peace: I’d never read it before, I loved every minute and now it’s hard-wired into my brain.



And if you hang onto only one thing:
of course they will love the books, they love the person reading them!



27 thoughts on “read it ALOUD!

    • I didn’t confess to being basically a big show off!
      I’d be really interested to know what adult (not as in *adult* obviously) books read aloud well to teenagers.
      Did your mum and dad carry on reading to you, and any tips to pass on?

  1. Wonderful rallying stuff! And so beautifully put… I cherish the times I’ve read to (and with) Gabriel. He may be 13, but you’ve inspired me to start something I’ve wanted to read to him for ages: The Once & Future King. Of course he could read it himself. But I want to share it with him. Tonight’s the night!

    • Thank you so much, James! Yes, I cherish them too.
      What a wonderful plan! Just because someone can read to themselves why should it end there? I think the message that we have found the time just for them is fairly key, too…

  2. I love the idea of reading aloud to my daughter for as long as possible, I agree it is as much giving special time to your child as reading to them. It is something I really enjoy and I often ignore other chores to read stories as I know that there will come a day when it will just be a wonderful memory (for us both).

    My only New Year’s resolution (which I haven’t managed as much as I would have liked!) is also to read more in front of my daughter, I want to be a better role model so that she knows that I also enjoy reading and it is not something that I just do with her.

    • Hello Catherine, thanks so much for calling by and leaving such a lovely comment! It’s so good to hear that you too are eager to carry on reading – as you say, chores can wait…
      I so agree about showing by example the joy of reading, that’s such a good point: I hope I’m passing on the message when sitting engrossed in a book while the tea gets burnt!

  3. Both as an infant school teacher & mum I couldn’t agree more!! My teen daughters love reading books from their younger days! Jill Barklem’s Brambly Hedge series, Famous Five, and the Foxwood stories are all favourites! At school we are hoping to start ‘reading cafe’s’ with parents coming to school to share stories & activities based on the stories- exciting times ahead to promote reading for enjoyment not just to learn how to read!

    • Hello Kathryn, thanks so much for calling by and for your wonderful comment. How inspiring that your teen daughters are still so fond of their childhood favourites! Mine are too.
      And what a terrific scheme – it’s lucky I’m not one of your parents because I’d be in your reader’s cafe constantly and you’d never get rid of me! I hope we can keep in touch, I’d love to hear how it goes…

  4. A great post Clara, and a lovely and important reminder at the end – I think this is specially important to say to people who feel uncomfortable reading aloud and hearing their own voice. Their child loves their parents voice, whatever the parent thinks of their own voice.

    • Thank you very much Zoe, and for drawing attention to an important point: it can be self-conscious-making to hear your own voice (I HATE to hear mine recorded) but our children don’t give two figs about that. And the message given – that there’s nowhere else you would rather be than sitting here and sharing this book – is unequivocal.

  5. That’s a lovely post, Clara. And also – those are absolutely GORGEOUS illustrations! WOW! I LOVE the little mouse waiting for his book on cheese to be read, and the little boy and the girl are beautifully drawn. You are such a good illustrator, Clara.

    • That is a wonderfully generous and cheering thing to say, Anne, thank you very much.
      Those pictures were drawn a long time ago, when I had models in the house of just the right age!

  6. Our daughters are all grown up now but they often talk of when we read to them… especially their Dad. The two with partners are still enjoying being read to and reading to their men. This is a wonderful way of sharing time together and I thoroughly approve. When I was ill recently, my husband read to me again for the first time in ages. We don’t always want to read the same books of course but when we do, I think I’ll just sit back and listen.

    • Hello Wendy, thank you so much for your wonderful comment.
      That’s a very special thing that you describe, reading aloud to our other beloved grown ups. What a lifelong gift you have given to your daughters.
      And as for your husband reading to you – I just long to rush round and listen too (but he might find that a bit of a shock!)…

  7. I so love reading aloud to my youngest boy and don’t want it too end for a VERY long time!Its a time that is always remembered when they grow up,as it’s been proved by my eldest age 20 now.We often talk about the stories we read together LOTR,Harry Potter etc

    • Hello Jess, thanks so much for calling by and for your brilliant comment!
      I’m really glad you feel the same. Isn’t it lovely to have that shared connection with our grown-up children and their childhood, looking back on favourite books shared and time spent together.
      (did you read LOTR aloud? it’s an epic task!)

  8. Thanks for such a brilliant post. This campaign is only possible because there ARE folk out there who don’t really need to be told how brilliant it is to read books to their children – but are willing to make a big shouty noise about it in the hope that those who currently don’t might wonder what all the fuss is about. As you’ve so beautifully put it Clara, there really is always time for reading – squeezing in books for pleasure into spare moments is something that becomes so addictive and with such a great payoff that it can seriously change your life and your routine. This is what we’ve found in the years since we first started reading to our little girl, when she was more interested in chewing books than looking at them.

    As I said on Twitter, those golden moments when you catch them unawares, reading on their own – that’s when you feel like the seeds you’ve sown are starting to bear fruit. I know for a lot of parents it’s extremely tough, but any kind of a pledge to even read a few books a week to their kids will give parents (and of course their children) more than just great bookish memories, it’ll give them great memories of time spent together on something truly worth doing.

    • Thank you, what a wonderful comment.
      I LOVE the idea that we are making a big shouty noise – and have in my mind that people will be looking over, at first puzzled, then cheerfully joining in!
      It’s clear to see that you’ve allowed books to run riot through your lives; me too. And it seems that the further away we can get from ‘reading to your child is good for them, like taking them to the dentist’ the better: after all, who’s having the most fun? Its a close call!

  9. So very true, I feel we don’t read enough to our son but always a book or two at bedtime, followed by a song all of his choosing, so important and the sillier the better, as an emerging reader old board books are read independently with increasing confidence.

    • Hello Morag, thanks very much for calling by! A song too? How lovely, what a lucky chap! It must feel wonderful and so empowering to read those old favourites independently. That’s a really important point too, that they run merrily along side each other.

  10. What a lovely post, Clara, really inspiring. You are right, reading aloud should e at any time of day. I used to take books to restaurants to read to entertain my two while we waited for food. Tonight we all (husband included) sat on the sofa while I read Agatha Parrot and the Zombie Bird to them. I hope this continues for a long, long time.

    • Thank you so much, Melanie – from such a champion of books especially that means a lot. I love the idea of the restaurant setting for a quick read-loud to while away the waiting time – and keep a place on the sofa for me, please!

  11. Oh this is great! We read aloud to H every day, several times (and have recently got her a library card now it’s a convenient place – it’s moved to the sports centre we have swimming lessons so we can go there before or after a class) – but I can’t stop buying books! (which is great!)

  12. How fantastic! Lucky H has the perfect book-loving family…
    and it just goes to show that library-using and book-buying go together, which is another big WIN for everybody X

    • I’ve even taken to buying apps for the iPad, then reading the book and recording it, so she can read it (with me reading it) in her own time, for those times when I’m cooking and she has to stay in the room away from the cooker. I have to say, I love how technology can work alongside our lives without it taking over (and I say that having done 24 hours of no technology – only missing it in my own time later on in the day!!) – and it’s great how she’ll choose a book to read without any trouble at all – because she loves looking at the pictures!

      (that and I also love going away and having more books than we could carry on a small gadget as well!)

      • That’s all excellent news – it seems that the iPad can be used really creatively alongside traditional books. It’s the story – and the pictures! – that count, not the device.
        And having your voice reading the story is an extra bonus, what a clever idea!

  13. Pingback: The Rainbow Library « Rhino Reads

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