We’ve always read aloud to our kids, from the time they were babies. And I’ve always expected that we would continue to read aloud to our kids for as long as they’ll let us. I thought of it as mostly fun and good for a common family culture to read the same books together, but I’ve been more convinced and inspired lately to make it a large part of our home education. I thought I’d collect some of the links and resources I’ve been reading or listening to here.
A big inspiration in the last couple weeks has been Sarah Mackenzie’s new Read Aloud Revival podcast. In the first episode, Andrew Pudewa pointed out how important it is to read aloud (frequently and in large amounts!) to older children that are capable of reading independently. It was one of those “why didn’t I think about that?” moments when he pointed out that we often read good literature to our younger kids, but we prioritize “independent reading” and when they do become independent readers, the main literary “intake” is whatever easy reader they are capable of reading. I read my kids, who are currently 3 and 4, poetry, chapter books, the Bible, lives of the saints, and great picture books. If I were to only read to them frequently until they were independent readers, it means their literary intake as three year olds is Robert Louis Stevenson, E. B. White and A. A. Milne, while as a five or six year old, it drops down to Little Bear Easy Readers.
After listening to Sarah podcast, I went on to listen to Andrew Pudewa’s longer talk “Nurturing Competent Communicators” which fleshes out his idea and focuses on offering children a large, sustained amount of “reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns” through reading aloud, and the effect this has on a child’s writing ability throughout life.
It’s long been a priority of ours to slowly collect an excellent children’s library here at home. I’ve found many resources over the years for choosing the best children’s literature for reading aloud, in order to prioritize our time and money. Below are a few.
The Ambleside Online book lists will be a resource I’m sure we will be referring to throughout our children’s educations.
I love poking around the blog Good Books for Young Souls. We’re reading all the original A. A. Milne Pooh stories now, and I just found a great post there on the origins of Winnie-the-Pooh that James was fascinated by. I just noticed she has a post on James’ other favorite, the original Thomas the Tank Engine stories, so that will be next.
The Like Mother, Like Daughter Library Project has some great posts on children’s literature.
We don’t have a TV and try to severely limit the children watching anything on our computer (we have occasional family movie nights, and they might average one short show per week otherwise, usually Little Bear). But I am strict about there being a “quiet time” every afternoon, and I like to let James listen to an audio story during that time. He usually listens to Sparkle Stories, which he loves and listens to over and over again. I highly recommend them. In addition to purchasing stories or a paid subscription, they have a free podcast that updates with a new story each week. We have all the podcasts stored up and James listens to them over and over. I keep meaning to also use the Readings from Under the Grapevine podcast for read alouds too, and I’m sure I’ll venture into the world of audio books for him more as he gets older.
Here is a great pamphlet with tips for reading aloud.
I find there is more than I could ever need in online booklists, but if you want a real book full of booklists of good literature, both Books Children Love and Honey for a Child’s Heart are frequently recommended. For an introduction to a literature-based home education, I recommend starting with For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.