See dot walk. See dot yawn. Can you hear the expression and enthusiasm? Neither can your child. Reading to your child can be so much more beneficial if you are excited about what you are reading to them. I’m not talking about the forced high pitch voice excited, your kids will know that you are pushing too hard. I am talking about the excited feeling you get when you can’t wait to turn the page, you are reading smoothly with expression and you can feel your face change as the story changes.
As a mother of a toddler and as a kindergarten teacher, I have seen it first hand how children respond to your passionate reading more than the dry, monotone, short sentence reading. My toddler will follow along with me as I read a 20 page story with pictures if I am using expression, facial gestures, and adding sound effects. However, I can lose his attention quickly in a short 5-page picture book if I am not excited about reading it.
When reading aloud to your child, try picking some books that are interesting to you and some books that match your style. If you like to read books that rhyme, pick one that has rhyming words in it. If you like planes, find a fictional story that includes planes.
My favorite book to read to my son at night is “Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site.” This story has rhyme and a sense of rhythm when reading. It also adds in sound effects that make it easy to express a tired emotion while reading to my son at night. I have always been a fan of poetry, so it is natural for me to want to read stories like these. It also helps that my son likes all types of vehicles! This story has now become his favorite because I love reading it to him.
I recently read a story to my kindergarten class called “Rhyming Dust Bunnies.” This is a very short story and can be choppy, unless you absorb the character’s personalities and add voices to your read aloud.
My students loved this book and remembered every detail. I read this story to another class without the expression, and there wasn’t nearly as much feedback as I received from my class. It doesn’t take a theater major or a teacher to spark the enthusiasm while reading; it just takes a little passion on your part. I highly recommend reading book reviews before purchasing a book to find out if it is interesting to you. I also recommend reading the book at least once to yourself before reading it to your child.
The smooth fluency you will have the second time around will keep your child more interested than if you have to stop to figure out what exactly the characters were trying to say. No matter what kind of book you are reading to your child, show them that you genuinely love reading it!