Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Out loud

Today is World Read Aloud Day.

One of my favorite times of day is the last hour or so before bed. For the past many years this has been the time that we read out loud. Hilary started the tradition by reading the entire Harry Potter series out loud to Liam. Actually, to both of us, because I would listen in too. It took just over 3 years to get through the whole series. Then I took over reading and we have made it through a variety of books. One of our favorite author’s is Kenneth Oppel  who hooked us in with his Sunwing series. Last night we finished one of his newest book’s, Boundless, a wonderful tale about a train full of adventure. Liam especially loved all the Canadian references (the Boundless starts out from Halifax and works its way across Canada) and it allowed us to have some great discussions on the building of the Canadian rail system, the involvement and treatment of the Chinese workers (one dead Chinese for every mile of track), racism against M├ętis people and the story of the last spike.

The books we read out loud are sometimes books that Liam could easily read to himself, and some may even be slightly below his reading level. We are starting on the 3rd series of books from the 39 Clues set, which Scholastic lists as being a grade 3-5 reading level. While this series is an “easy” read, they include a lot of history, geography and facts about world treasures. It opens up discussions about Russian Monarchs, the Sedlec Ossuary, Egyptian mummies, famous paintings and so much more. We often stop reading to turn to the internet to do more research on the topic in question.

I never thought that we would still be reading out loud once Liam was a tween, but it is something that we all enjoy and he is disappointed on nights that our schedule doesn’t allow us the time. I always equated reading out loud to kids with “bedtime stories”, something that you did when your child was young, and that they (and you) would eventually outgrow it. This article  lists 7 reasons why reading aloud to older kids is still very important. One of my favorite reasons is “life lessons”. So many times something has come up in a book that has allowed us to stop and have a great conversation about a topic we might not otherwise talk about.

The other out loud option that we love as a family is audio books. We listen to them in the car and at home. Liam has even been known to take his ipod and speakers into the bathroom while he has a bath so that he could keep listening to a story. We have the entire HP series on audio books and Liam (and I) will listen to them over and over, to the point that it feels like the reader Jim Dale, is member of our family.

We are getting ready for a weekly long trip for March break. We are going to be completely tech-free for 7 days, including no audio books. The dilemma is how many and which books to take with us? I’m envisioning us needing to dedicated an entire suitcase to our reading supply. This is not, however, a bad problem to be faced with, just a heavy one.

Do you read out loud to your kids? 
If you don’t anymore, what age were they when you stopped? 
If you do read out loud, what kind of books do you read?