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Reading Aloud Pep Talk

 As far as I’m concerned, reading aloud is the simplest, most effective, least expensive, and most enjoyable method of learning.  It cannot be praised too highly.  It is relationship-building, learning, and entertainment all in one.  It’s great for young children, teens, and adults, for family members and friends.   It teaches us about the world God made and the people in it, giving us understanding of others and of ourselves.

I suppose reading aloud has always been part of my family.  My mom read to us all, even when we were teenagers.  Her father read to his family of 14 children and any guests who happened to be around.  Now, when my parents get together with their siblings, some aunt or uncle will occasionally read a book out loud, usually a funny one, and they’ll all laugh endlessly. 

Even when I left home, I was singularly blessed because my university friend loved to read out loud.  She read books to all of us physics students during lunch breaks and endless, tedious labs (this was way back in the stone age, before the days of computerized data-taking,). 

I am grateful for all the joys of being read to and am so happy to share that joy with my children again.  When I was very ill, I did not have the energy to read aloud, but now I have the stamina to read several chapters at a time.  That is such a blessing!  

I love it, and the children usually do too, although sometimes I cannot find a book that suits everyone perfectly.  That makes sense.  When you’re reading to five people, ages 7-17, everyone has to compromise a bit, but it’s worth it.  We share a common adventure, meet interesting people, worry and laugh and breath sighs of relief together, and build a common heritage.

Besides all that, we absorb knowledge effortlessly.  We learn about history, geography, and science.  We discover different kinds of people, and how they act and interact.  We learn about author’s messages and about why we like different books.  We get to live all over the world, throughout time, in all environments, and with all sorts of people. What’s best, we all get to go on these wonderful trips together, safely, comfortably, and for free.

If you’ve crossed the Alps with Charlemagne, travelled through the Canadian wilderness with Ballantyne, struggled against (or for) Cromwell, supported William the Silent against the Spanish, studied light with Isaac Newton, and careened down cobbled streets on a wild cart ride with The Little Dutch Twins, you’ll never forget.  Nor will you forget the flavour of those times and places.  That sort of learning sticks thousands of times better than learning about dates, places, and personages from your average textbook.

Ten well-known books that have become our favourites over the years are:

The Little House on the Prairie series (obviously!)


Journey to the Center of the Earth


Little Lord Fauntleroy


The Swiss Family Robinson

Children of the New Forest   

Eight Cousins

The Little Duke

(Note that all of these except the Little House series and Milly-Molly-Mandy are available free from Project Gutenberg.)  We’ve also read many others—some deservedly less famous than the quick list above—and have enjoyed them all.  Of course, my children might argue with my favourites list and could easily triple it with more great books.

Occasionally I’ve started a book and have had to stop, just because I could not bear to be the one exposing my little ones to the ideas expounded.  I was surprised at which books these were.  I stopped What Katy Did at the passage where Katy’s crowd banged the knuckles of girls from a rival school (with a hammer, if I recall correctly) as they were climbing a fence.  I quit reading Anne of Green Gables because I couldn’t stomach sharing Anne’s innocent irreverence with my littlest ones.  I just couldn’t read those words out loud.  (As an aside, that experience coloured my views of all of L.M. Montgomery’s books, even though I formerly loved many of them.  Anne’s irreverence was innocent, but the author’s was perhaps not.)

We’ve also read some great Dutch books.  It’s a bit awkward reading Dutch aloud to my kids, because while I’m reading I have to remember which words they don’t know and repeat them in English after reading them in Dutch.  However, this does improve their vocabulary, and it gives us access to wonderful children’s literature that has not been translated. It also helps the children develop an ear for the language, greatly simplifying grammar instruction later on.  I suppose it’s one form of the immersion method of learning languages.

Of course every family is different, and you might hate the books we love, but all all children, including teens, would benefit from generous amounts of reading aloud.  In my experience, the person reading out loud benefits as well. 

For more hints and tips on homeschooling, you can visit Tuesday’s Toolbox.  If you have a post to enter, please join in.  For  practical hints about what works for different families, see Works for Me Wednesday.


  1. Susan says:

    Even on days when we don't read aloud for our lessons, hubby reads a chapter from the current family reading book to the kiddos just before bed.

  2. Susan says:

    And thank you for linking to Tuesday's Toolbox!

  3. Anonymous says:

    We do this too. We've read Harry Potter, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Winnie the Pooh, and I'm hoping to start on the Little House on the Prairie books next.

  4. LarabaK says:

    for the list of great books. I have read 7 of the 10, I think.

    With Anne of Green Gables, I read it out loud to our older girls (9 and 7 at the time) so we were able to talk about problematic issues. I found the premature romance issues to be a problem but we discussed those.

    I needed the spur to start reading aloud to our older girls again. I do well with the young ones but I gave up on the older girls since they read so well themselves and I've felt strapped for time. But it is a sweet thing to do together…I need to restart.


  5. Jenny says:

    hai. just stopping by to check out your blog 😀

    Jenny ~


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