After I posted the “Christmas at Eleven” article, about Jonathan’s dictated contribution to the family Christmas newsletter, I realized what a huge part of Jonathan’s day reading was. He mentions it three times: that he goes to the school library every day, that his dad reads to him, and that his mom reads bedtime stories to him–and he is even specific about titles. No one told him what to dictate for his Christmas story–he just spoke what was important to him.


Jonathan at 6, loving listening to Mom read one of his many homemade books, this one “A Book of Opposites,” interesting to him only because the “opposites” were all about HIM!

Which made me think…do we realize how important is it to keep reading aloud to our kids, even when they can read for themselves? It’s about love. It’s about sharing moments that ordinarily would lie outside of our daily lives: together we go to imaginary places and witness wondrous things. It’s about teaching grammar and language without our kids being tipped off as to what we’re actually doing. It’s about being close and snuggling.

And it’s about teaching our young readers to read for meaning, to read for content. That’s one of my favorite flags to wave: teach your child to read for content. We don’t want to create children who are “reading machines” who can read anything but don’t know what they just read. We want children to love what they’re reading. So when Jonathan says in our Christmas newsletter that he went to the library at school and, “I pick a book and read it and it’s a story,” I know that he just read a story. 

He was an independent reader by 8, but we kept right on reading aloud to him–for years. Even when he was too big to sit and snuggle with me while I read, I remember fondly sitting in a rocking chair between his bed and his sister’s bed and reading the most wonderful stories to them, night after night. Such sweet memories, and such wonderful books!

So with all of my preaching about teaching reading by “Going in through the heart and teaching to the brain” (from Whole Child Reading, my new book), it’s good to remember that reading aloud is part of the first half of that magic equation, going in through the heart. That helps get us where we want to go: creating successful, enthusiastic readers.student-reading-clipart-clipart-panda-free-clipart-images-gqaojs-clipart

Remembering those sweet read-aloud moments and hoping you have lots of those in your lives right now,

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  • liz

    thank you.. a great post for a great new year.

    • Natalie Hale

      You’re welcome! Happy New Year!